Davideis (Cowley)

Davideis, a Sacred Poem of the Troubles of David (1656) is an unfinished epic poem by the 17th century English poet Abraham Cowley, its theme the life of the Biblical David.

Nothing is there to come, and nothing past,
But an eternal now does always last.

Book IEdit

  • I sing the Man who Judahs Scepter bore
    In that right hand which held the Crook before;
    Who from best Poet, best of Kings did grow;
    The two chief gifts Heav'n could on Man bestow.
    • lines 1–4
  • Ev'en Thou my breast with such blest rage inspire,
    As mov'd the tuneful strings of Davids Lyre
    • lines 25–26
  • Lo, this great work, a Temple to thy praise,
    On polisht Pillars of strong Verse I raise!
    A Temple, where if Thou vouchsafe to dwell,
    It Solomons, and Herods shall excel.
    Too long the Muses-Land have Heathen bin;
    Their Gods too long were Dev'ils, and Vertues Sin;
    But Thou, Eternal Word, hast call'd forth Me
    Th' Apostle, to convert that World to Thee;
    • lines 33–40
  • Well did he know how Palms by oppression speed,
    Victorious, and the Victors sacred Meed!
    The Burden lifts them higher. Well did he know,
    How a tame stream does wild and dangerous grow
    By unjust force; he now with wanton play,
    Kisses the smiling Banks, and glides
    But his known Channel stopt, begins to roare,
    And swell with rage, and buffet the dull shore.
    His mutinous waters hurry to the War,
    And Troops of Waves come rolling from afar.
    Then scorns he such weak stops to his free source,
    And overruns the neighboring fields with violent course.
    • lines 49–60
  • Beneath the mighty ocean's wealthy caves;
    Beneath the eternal fountain of the waves,
    Where their vast court the mother-waters keep,
    And undisturb'd by moons in silence sleep.
    • lines 77–80
  • Here no dear glimpse of the sun's lovely face
    Strikes through the solid darkness of the place.
    • Description of hell; lines 85–86
  • Here Lucifer the mighty Captive reigns;
    Proud, 'midst his Woes, and Tyrant in his Chains.
    • lines 91–92
  • Unable to corrupt, seek to destroy;
    And where their Poysons miss, the Sword employ.
    • lines 105–106
  • He saw the beauties of his shape and face,
    His female sweetness, and his manly grace
    • lines 109–110 (of David)
  • Nothing is there to come, and nothing past,
    But an eternal now does always last.
    • lines 361–362
    • See also "One of our poets (which is it?) speaks of an everlasting now", Robert Southey, The Doctor, chap. xxv. p. 1
  • Such was Gods Poem, this Worlds new Essay;
    So wild and rude in its first draught it lay;
    Th' ungovern'd parts no Correspondence knew,
    An artless war from thwarting Motions grew;
    Till they to Number and fixt Rules were brought
    By the eternal Minds Poetique Thought.
    Water and Air he for the Tenor chose,
    Earth made the Base, the Treble Flame arose,
    To th' active Moon a quick brisk stroke he gave,
    To Saturns string a touch more soft and grave.
    The motions Strait, and Round, and Swift, and Slow,
    And Short, and Long, were mixt and woven so,
    Did in such artful Figures smoothly fall,
    As made this decent measur'd Dance of All.
    • lines 451–464
In him he all things with strange order hurl'd;
In him, that full abridgement of the world.
  • When Israel was from bondage led,
    Led by the Almighty's hand
    From out of foreign land,
    The great sea beheld and fled.
    • lines 483–486
  • In him he all things with strange order hurl'd;
    In him, that full abridgement of the world.
    • lines 287–828

Book IIEdit

  • An harmless flaming meteor shone for hair,
    And fell adown his shoulders with loose care.
    • lines 801–802
    • Compare: "Loose his beard and hoary hair / Stream'd like a meteor to the troubled air", Thomas Gray, The Bard, i. 2

Book IIIEdit

  • A mighty man, had not some cunning sin,
    Amidst so many virtues crowded in.
    • lines 75–76
  • Thus each extreme to equal danger tends,
    Plenty, as well as Want, can separate Friends.
    • lines 205–206

Book IVEdit

  • Were ill obey'd whil'st Living, and at death,
    Their Rules and Pattern vanisht with their breath.
    • line 72–73
  • Firm in this general Earthquake of the Land,
    How could Religion, its main pillar, stand?
    Proud, and fond Man, his Fathers worship hates,
    Himself, Gods Creature, his own God Creates.
    • lines 100–104
  • For Ammon, heightned with mixt Nations aid,
    Like Torrents swoln with Rain prepar'd the land t'invade.
    • lines 142–143
  • We' are come, most sacred Judge, to pay th'Arrears
    Of much-ow'd thanks for the bright thirty years
    Of your just Reign; and at your feet to lay
    All that our grateful hearts can weakly pay
    In unproportion'd words; for you alone
    The not unfit Reward, who seek for none.
    But when our forepast ills we call to mind,
    And sadly think how Little's left behind
    Of your important Life, whose sudden date
    Would disinherit th'unprovided State.
    When we consider how unjust 'tis, you,
    Who nere of Power more than the Burden knew,
    At once the weight of that and Age should have;
    Your stooping days prest doubly towards the grave.
    When we behold by Ammons youthful rage,
    Proud in th' advantage of your peaceful age,
    And all th'united East our fall conspir'd;
    And that your Sons, whom chiefly we desir'd
    As Stamps of you, in your lov'd room to place,
    By unlike acts that noble Stamp deface:
    Midst these new fears and ills, we're forc'd to fly
    To' a new, and yet unpractis'd Remedy;
    A new one, but long promis'd and foretold,
    By Moses, and to Abraham shown of old.
    A Prophesie long forming in the Womb
    Of teeming years, and now to ripeness come.
    This Remedy's a King; for this we all
    With an inspir'd, and zealous Union call.
    And in one sound when all mens voices join,
    The Musick's tun'd (no doubt) by hand divine.
    • lines 190–219
  • Cheat not your selves with words: for though a King
    Be the mild Name, a Tyrant is the Thing.
    Let his power loose, and you shall quickly see
    How mild a thing unbounded Man will be.

    He'll lead you forth your hearts cheap blood to spill,
    Where e're his Guidless Passion leads his Will.
    Ambition, Lust, or Spleen his wars will raise,
    Your Lives best price his thirst of Wealth or Praise.
    Your ablest Sons for his proud Guards he'll take,
    And by such hands your yoke more grievous make.
    Your Daughters and dear Wives he'll force away,
    His Lux'ury some, and some his Lust t'obey.
    His idle friends your hungry toils shall eat,
    Drink your rich Wines, mixt with your Blood and Sweat.
    Then you'll all sigh, but sighs will Treasons be;
    And not your Griefs themselves, or Looks be free.
    • lines 228–253
  •           'Tis true, Sir, he replies;
    Yet men whom age and action renders wise,
    So much great changes fear, that they believe
    All evils will, which may from them arrive.
    • lines 272–275
  • With humble Knees, and humbler Hearts, Lo, here,
    Blest Abrah'ams Seed implores thy gracious Ear.
    Hear them, great God, and thy just will inspire;
    From Thee, their long-known King, they'a King desire.
    Some gracious signs of thy good pleasure send,
    Which, lo, with Souls resign'd we humbly here attend.
    • Samuel praying to God; lines 298–303
  • You were not made for him, but he for you,
    And both for God.
    • lines 675–676