Against Hope

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Against Hope
by Abraham Cowley

     Hope! whose weak being ruin'd is,
Alike if it succeed, and if it miss;
Whom good or ill does equally confound,
And both the horns of Fates dilemma wound.
     Vain shadow! which dost vanish quite,
     Both at full noon, and perfect night!
The Stars have not a possibility
     Of blessing thee;
If things then from their end we happy call,
'Tis Hope is the most hopeless thing of all.

     Hope! thou bold taster of delight,
Who, whilst thou should'st but taste, devour'st it quite!
Thou bring'st us an estate, yet leav'st us poor,
By clogging it with legacies before!
     The joys which we entire should wed,
     Come deflowr'd virgins to our bed;
Good fortunes without gain imported be,
     Such mighty custom's paid to thee.
For joy, like wine, kept close does better taste;
If it take air before, its spirits wast.

     Hope! Fortune's cheating lottery!
Where for one prize an hundred blanks there be;
Fond archer, Hope! who tak'st thy aim so far,
That still or short, or wide thine arrows are!
     Thin, empty cloud, which th'eye deceives
     With shapes that our own fancy gives!
A cloud, which gilt and painted now appears,
     But must drop presently in tears!
When thy false beams o're Reason's light prevail,
By Ignes Fatui for North-stars we sail.

     Brother of Fear, more gaily clad!
The merrier Fool o'th' two, yet quite as mad:
Sire of Repentance! Child of fond desire!
That blow'st the Chemics, and the lover's, fire,
     Leading them still insensibly 'on
     By the strange witchcraft of "anon!"
By thee the one does changing Nature through
     Her endless labyrinths pursue,
And th'other chaces Woman, whilst she goes
More ways and turns than hunted Nature knows.