Abraham Cowley

(1618 – 28 July 1667 / London)

The Despair


Beneath this gloomy shade,
By Nature only for my sorrows made,
I'll spend this voyce in crys,
In tears I'll waste these eyes

By Love so vainly fed;
So Lust of old the Deluge punished.
Ah wretched youth! said I,
'Ah, wretched youth!' twice did I sadly cry:
'Ah, wretched youth!' the fields and floods reply.

When thoughts of Love I entertain,
I meet no words but 'Never,' and 'In vain.'
'Never' alas that dreadful name
Which fuels the infernal flame:

'Never,' My time to come must waste;
'In vain,' torments the present and the past.
'In vain, in vain!' said I;
'In vain, in vain!' twice did I sadly cry;
'In vain, in vain!' the fields and floods reply.

No more shall fields or floods do so;
For I to shades more dark and silent go:
All this world's noise appears to me
A dull ill-acted comedy:

No comfort to my wounded sight,
In the suns busy and imperti'nent Light.
Then down I laid my head;
Down on cold earth; and for a while was dead,
And my freed soul to a strange somewhere fled.

'Ah, sottish Soul' said I,
When back to its cage again I saw it fly;
'Fool to resume her broken chain!
And row her galley here again!'

'Fool, to that body to return
Where it condemn'd and destin'd is to burn!
Once dead, how can it be,
Death should a thing so pleasant seem to thee,
That thou should'st come to live it o're again in me?'

Submitted: Monday, April 19, 2010

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