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Chronicle, The: A Ballad

Abraham Cowley 1618 (London) – 1667 (London)

Margarita first possess'd,
If I remember well, my breast,
Margarita, first of all;
But when a while the wanton maid
With my restless heart had play'd,
Martha took the flying ball.
Martha soon did it resign
To the beauteous Catharine.
Beauteous Catharine gave place
(Though loth and angry she to part
With the possession of my heart)
To Eliza's conquering face.
Eliza till this hour might reign,
Had she not evil counsel ta'en:
Fundamental laws she broke,
And still new favourites she chose,
Till up in arms my passions rose,
And cast away her yoke.
Mary then and gentle Anne,
Both to reign at once began,
Alternately they swayed:
And sometimes Mary was the fair,
And sometimes Anne the crown did wear,
And sometimes both I obey'd.
Another Mary then arose,
And did rigorous laws impose;
A mighty tyrant she!
Long, alas, should I have been
Under that iron-scepter'd queen,
Had not Rebecca set me free.
When fair Rebecca set me free,
'Twas then a golden time with me,
But soon those pleasures fled;
For the gracious princess died
In her youth and beauty's pride,
And Judith reigned in her stead.
One month, three days, and half an hour,
Judith held the sovereign power,
Wondrous beautiful her face;
But so weak and small her wit,
That she to govern was unfit,
And so Susanna took her place.
But when Isabella came,
Arm'd with a resistless flame,
And th' artillery of her eye;
Whilst she proudly march'd about
Greater conquests to find out:
She beat out Susan by the bye.
But in her place I then obey'd
Black-ey'd Bess, her viceroy maid,
To whom ensued a vacancy:
Thousand worse passions then possess'd
The interregnum of my breast;
Bless me from such an anarchy.
Gentle Henrietta then,
And a third Mary next began;
Then Joan, and Jane, and Andria:
And then a pretty Thomasine,
And then another Catharine,
And then a long et caetera.
But should I now to you relate
The strength and riches of their state,
The powder, patches, and the pins,
The ribbons, jewels, and the rings,
The lace, the paint, and warlike things,
That make up all their magazines:
If I should tell the politic arts
To take and keep men's hearts;
The letters, embassies, and spies,
The frowns, and smiles, and flatteries,
The quarrels, tears, and perjuries,
Numberless, nameless, mysteries!
And all the little lime-twigs laid
By Machiavel, the waiting maid;
I more voluminous should grow
(Chiefly if I, like them, should tell
All change of weather that befel)
Than Holinshed or Stow.
But I will briefer with them be,
Since few of them were long with me:
An higher and a nobler strain
My present empress does claim,
Eleonora, first o' th' name,
Whom God grant long to reign.
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Submitted on August 03, 2020

2:27 min read

Abraham Cowley

Abraham Cowley was an English poet born in the City of London late in 1618. He was one of the leading English poets of the 17th century, with 14 printings of his Works published between 1668 and 1721. more…

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