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ABRAHAM COWLEY was born in London, in 1618, and died in 1667. His poetical works are divided into four parts—the Miscellaneous, the Love Verses, the Pindaric Odes, and the Davideis. The last was an Epic, of considerable length, on the troubles of David. He was the most popular English poet of his times, and on his death was interred with great pomp in Westminster Abbey. Posterity, however, have not confirmed the opinion of his contemporaries. He was undoubtedly a man of learning, and some genius, but was under the influence of bad taste. The following are among the most favourable specimens which his poems afford.
Sleep on! Rest, quiet as thy conscience, take,
For there no twilight of the sun's dull ray
Happy insect, what can be
Thee country hinds with gladness hear, Prophet of the ripened year! Thee Phæbus loves, and does inspire ; Phoebus is himself thy sire. To thee, of all things upon earth, Life is no longer than thy mirth. Happy insect! happy thou, Dost neither age nor winter know. But when thou 'st drunk, and danced, and sung Thy fill, the flowery leaves among, (Voluptuous and wise withal, Epicurean animal!) Satiated with thy summer feast. . Thou retirest to endless rest.
EDMUND WALLER (1605–1687) was a poet of very much the same character as his contemporary Cowley, and both have experienced nearly the same fate. In his old age, he wrote an extended poem of a religious character, entitled Divine Love. He succeeded with this, however, no better than Cowley with his Davideis. His best pieces are those of a light and playful nature, suited to the cast of his mind. Three short specimens are given.
Go, LOVELY ROSE
Go, lovely rose!
That now she knows,
Tell her, that's
That hadst thou sprung
Small is the worth
Bid her come forth,
Then die! that she
May read in thee,
ON A GIRDLE.
That which her slender waist confined
OLD AGE AND DEATH.
The seas are quiet when the winds give o'er, So calm are we when passions are no more. For then we know how yain it was to boast Of fleeting things, too certain to be lost.