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Short poem

Abraham Cowley (1618-1667)

The Wish

              1Well then; I now do plainly see
              2This busy world and I shall ne'er agree.
              3The very honey of all earthly joy
              4Does of all meats the soonest cloy;
              5      And they (methinks) deserve my pity
              6Who for it can endure the stings,
              7The crowd, and buzz, and murmurings
              8      Of this great hive, the city.

              9  Ah, yet, ere I descend to th' grave
            10May I a small house and large garden have!
            11And a few friends, and many books, both true,
            12Both wise, and both delightful too!
            13      And since love ne'er will from me flee,
            14A mistress moderately fair,
            15And good as guardian angels are,
            16      Only belov'd, and loving me.

            17  O fountains! when in you shall I
            18Myself eas'd of unpeaceful thoughts espy?
            19O fields! O woods! when shall I be made
            20The happy tenant of your shade?
            21      Here's the spring-head of Pleasure's flood:
            22Here's wealthy Nature's treasury,
            23Where all the riches lie that she
            24      Has coin'd and stamp'd for good.

            25  Pride and ambition here
            26Only in far-fetch'd metaphors appear;
            27Here nought but winds can hurtful murmurs scatter,
            28And nought but Echo flatter.
            29      The gods, when they descended, hither
            30From heaven did always choose their way:
            31And therefore we may boldly say
            32      That 'tis the way too thither.

            33  How happy here should I
            34And one dear she live, and embracing die!
            35She who is all the world, and can exclude
            36In deserts solitude.
            37      I should have then this only fear:
            38Lest men, when they my pleasures see,
            39Should hither throng to live like me,
            40      And so make a city here.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Abraham Cowley, The Mistresse (London: for Humphrey Mosely, 1647). Wing 6674.
First publication date: 1647
RPO poem editor: N. J. Endicott
RP edition: 2RP 1.450.
Recent editing: 4:2002/2/10

Form: Horatian Ode
Rhyme: aabbcddc

Other poems by Abraham Cowley