Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PINDARIC ODE: TO MR. HOBS, by ABRAHAM COWLEY

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PINDARIC ODE: TO MR. HOBS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Vast bodies of philosophy
Last Line: And that which never is to dye, for ever must be young.
Subject(s): Hobbes, Thomas (1588-1679); Pindar (522-440 B.c.)


VAST Bodies of Philosophy
I oft have seen, and read,
But all are Bodies dead,
Or Bodies by Art fashioned;
I never yet the Living Soul could see,
But in thy Books and thee.
'Tis only God can know
Whether the fair Idea thou dost show
Agree intirely with his own or no.
This I dare boldly tell,
'Tis so like Truth, 'twill serve our Turn as well.
Just, as in Nature, their Proportions be,
As full of Concord their Variety,
As firm the Parts upon their Center rest,
And all so solid are, that they at least
As much as Nature, Emptiness detest.


Long did the mighty Stagirite retain
The universal Intellectual Reign;
Saw his own Country's short-liv'd Leopard slain;
The stronger Roman-Eagle did outfly,
Oftner renew'd his Age, and saw that dye.
Mecha it self, in spite of Mahumet, possess'd,
And chas'd by a wild Deluge from the East,
His Monarchy new-planted in the West.
But as in time each great Imperial Race
Degenerates, and gives some new one place:
So did this noble Empire waste,
Sunk by degrees from Glories past,
And in the School-men's hands it perish'd quite at last.
Then nought but Words it grew,
And those all Barb'rous too.
It perish'd, and it vanish'd there,
The Life and Soul breath'd out became but empty Air.


The Fields which answer'd well the Ancients' Plow,
Spent and out-worn return no Harvest now,
In barren Age wild and unglorious lye,
And boast of past Fertility,
The poor Relief of present Poverty.
Food and Fruit we must now want:
Unless new Lands we plant.
We break up Tombs with Sacrilegious Hands,
Old Rubbish we remove;
To walk in Ruins, like vain Ghosts, we love,
And with fond Divining Wands,
We search among the dead
For Treasures buried;
Whilst still the Liberal Earth does hold
So many Virgin Mines of undiscover'd Gold.


The Baltique, Euxin, and the Caspian,
And slender-limb'd Mediterranean,
Seem narrow Creeks to thee, and only fit
For the poor wretched Fisher-boats of Wit.
Thy nobler Vessel the vast Ocean tries,
And nothing sees but Seas and Skies,
'Till unknown Regions it descries,
Thou great Columbus of the Golden Lands of new Philosophies.
Thy Task was harder much than his,
For thy learn'd America is
Not only found out first by thee,
And rudely left to future Industry,
But thy Eloquence and thy Wit
Has planted, peopled, built, and civiliz'd it.


I little thought before,
(Nor, being my own self so poor,
Could comprehend so vast a Store)
That all the Wardrobe of rich Eloquence
Could have afforded half enough,
Of bright, of new, and lasting Stuff,
To cloath the mighty Limbs of thy gigantick Sense.
Thy solid Reason like the Shield from Heaven
To the Trojan Heroe given,
Too strong to take a Mark from any mortal Dart,
Yet shines with Gold and Gems in every Part,
And' Wonders on it grav'd by the learn'd Hand of Art;
A Shield that gives Delight
Even to the Enemies' Sight,
Then, when they're sure to lose the Combate by't.


Nor can the Snow which now cold Age does shed
Upon thy reverend Head,
Quench or allay the noble Fires within,
But all which thou hast been,
And all that Youth can be, thou'rt yet,
So fully still dost thou
Enjoy the Manhood, and the Bloom of Wit,
And all the Natural Heat, but not the Feaver too.
So Contraries on AEtna's Top conspire,
Here hoary Frosts, and by them breaks out Fire;
A secure Peace the faithful Neighbours keep,
Th' embolden'd Snow next to the Flames does sleep.
And if we weigh, like thee,
Nature, and Causes, we shall see
That thus it needs must be.
To Things Immortal Time can do no Wrong,
And that which never is to dye, for ever must be Young.

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