Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE INNOCENT ILL, by ABRAHAM COWLEY



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THE INNOCENT ILL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Though all thy gestures and discourses be
Last Line: (we know) ev'n the destroying angels are.


1.

THough all thy gestures and discourses be
Coyn'd and stamp'd by Modestie,
Though from thy Tongue ne're slipt away
One word which Nuns at th' Altar might not say;
Yet such a sweetness, such a grace
In all thy speech appear,
That what to th' Eye a beauteous face,
That thy Tongue is to th' Ear.
So cunningly it wounds the heart,
It strikes such heat through every part,
That thou a Tempter worse than Satan art.

2.

Though in thy thoughts scarce any tracks have bin,
So much as of Original Sin,
Such charms thy Beauty wears as might
Desires, in dying confest Saints excite.
Thou with strange Adulterie
Dost in each breast a Brothel keep;
Awake, all Men do lust for thee,
And some enjoy thee when they sleep.
Ne'er before did Woman live,
Who to such Multitudes did give
The Root and cause of Sin, but only Eve.

3.

Though in thy breast so quick a Pity be,
That a Flie's Death's a wound to thee.
Though savage, and rock-hearted those
Appear, that weep not ev'n Romances' woes.
Yet ne're before was Tyrant known,
Whose rage was of so large extent;
The ills thou dost are whole thine own,
Thou'rt Principal and Instrument;
In all the deaths that come from you,
You do the treble Office do
Of Judge, of Torturer, and of Weapon too.

4.

Thou lovely Instrument of angry Fate,
Which God did for our faults create!
Thou Pleasant, Universal Ill,
Which sweet as Health, yet like a Plague dost kill!
Thou kind, well-natured Tyrannie!
Thou chaste Committer of a Rape!
Thou voluntary Destinie,
Which no man can, or Would escape!
So gentle, and so glad to spare,
So wondrous good, and wondrous fair,
(We know) ev'n the Destroying Angels are.





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