To Sir William Davanant

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To Sir William Davanant
by Abraham Cowley

Methinks heroick poesy till now
Like some fantastic fairy land did show,
Gods, devils, nymphs, witches and giants race,
And all but man in man's chief work had place.
Thou like some worthy knight with sacred arms
Dost drive the monsters thence, and end the charms.
Instead of those dost men and manners plant,
The things which that rich soil did chiefly want.
Yet ev'en thy mortals do their gods excell,
Taught by thy muse to fight and love so well.

By fatal hands whilst present empires fall,
Thine from the grave past monarchies recall.
So much more thanks from humane kind does merit
The poets fury, then the zealot's spirit.
And from the grave thou mak'est this empire rise,
Not like some dreadful ghost t'affright our eyes,
But with more luster and triumphant state,
Then when it crown'd at proud Verona sate.
So will our god rebuild man's perished frame,
And raise him up much better, yet the same.
So god-like poets do past things rehearse,
Not change, but heighten nature by their verse.

With shame, methinks, great Italy must see
Her conqu'erors rais'ed to life again by thee.
Rais'd by such pow'erful verse, that ancient Rome
May blush no less to see her wit o'recome.
Some men their fancies like their faith derive,
And think all ill but that which rome does give.
The marks of old and catholick would find,
To the same chair would truth and fiction bind.
Thou in those beaten paths disdain'st to tred,
And scorn'st to live by robbing of the dead.
Since time does all things change, thou think'st not fit
This latter age should see all new but wit.
Thy fancy like a flame its way does make,
And leave bright tracks for following pens to take.
Sure 'twas this noble boldness of the muse
Did thy desire to seek new worlds infuse,
And ne're did heav'n so much a voyage bless,
If thou can'st plant but there with like success.