The Request - Poem by Abraham Cowley
I'AVE often wish'd to love; what shall I do?
Me still the cruel boy does spare;
And I a double task must bear,
First to woo him, and then a mistress too.
Come at last and strike, for shame,
If thou art any thing besides a name;
I'll think thee else no God to be,
But poets rather Gods, who first created thee.
I ask not one in whom all beauties grow;
Let me but love, whate'er she be,
She cannot seem deform'd to me;
And I would have her seem to others so.
Desire takes wings and straight does fly,
It stays not dully to inquire the Why.
That happy thing, a lover, grown,
I shall not see with others' eyes, scarce with mine own.
If she be coy, and scorn my noble fire;
If her chill heart I cannot move;
Why I'll enjoy the very love,
And make a mistress of my own desire.
Flames their most vigorous heat do hold,
And purest light, if compass'd round with cold:
So, when sharp winter means most harm,
The springing plants are by the snow itself kept warm.
But do not touch my heart, and so be gone;
Strike deep thy burning arrows in!
Lukewarmness I account a sin,
As great in love as in religion.
Come arm'd with flames; for I would prove
All the extremities of mighty Love.
Th' excess of heat is but a fable;
We know the torrid zone is now found habitable.
Among the woods and forests thou art found,
There boars and lions thou dost tame;
Is not my heart a nobler game?
Let Venus, men; and beasts, Diana, wound!
Thou dost the birds thy subjects make;
Thy nimble feathers do their wings o'ertake:
Thou all the spring their songs dost hear;
Make me love too, I'll sing to' thee all the year!
What service can mute fishes do to thee?
Yet against them thy dart prevails,
Piercing the armour of their scales;
And still thy sea-born mother lives i'th' sea.
Dost thou deny only to me
The no-great privilege of captivity?
I beg or challenge here thy bow;
Either thy pity to me, or else thine anger, show.
Come! or I 'll teach the world to scorn that bow:
I'll teach them thousand wholesome arts
Both to resist and cure thy darts,
More than thy skilful Ovid e'er did know.
Musick of sighs thou shalt not hear,
Nor drink one wretched lover's tasteful tear:
Nay, unless soon thou woundest me,
My verses shall not only wound, but murder, thee.
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