1638 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Kenelm Digby

Abraham Cowley, "To the truly Worthy, and Noble, Sir Kenelme Digbie, Knight" Cowley, Loves Riddle (1638) sig. A3.



This latter Age, the Lees of Time, hath knowne,
Few, that have made both Pallas arts their owne.
But you, Great Sir, two Lawrels weare, and are
Victorious in Peace, as well as War.
Learning by right of Conquest is your owne,
And every liberall Art your Captive growne,
As if neglected Science (for it now
Wants some defenders) fled for helpe to you,
Whom I must follow, and let this for mee
An earnest of my future service bee.
Which I should feare to send you, did I know
Your judgement onely, not your Candor too.
For 'twas a Worke, stolne (though you'le justly call
This Play, as fond as those) from Cat, or Ball.
Had it been written since, I should, I feare,
Scarce have abstain'd from a Philosopher.
Which by Tradition here is thought to bee
A necessarie Part in Comedie.
Nor need I tell you this; each line of it
Betray's the Time and Place wherein 'twas writ.
And I could wish, that I might safely say
To th' Reader, that 'twas done but th' other day.
Yet 'tis not stuff'd with names of Gods, hard words,
Such as the Metamorphosis affords.
Nor has't a part for Robinson, whom they
At schoole, account essentiall to a Play.
The stile is low, such as you'le easily take
For what a Swaine might speake, and a Boy make.
Take it, as early fruits, which rare appeare
Though not halfe ripe, but worst of all the yeare.
And if it please your tast, my Muse will say,
The Birch which crown'd her then, is growne a Bay.
Yours in all observance,
A. COWLEY.