The Tree of Knowledge (Cowley)
The sacred tree 'midst the fair orchard grew;
The Phoenix truth did on it rest,
And built his perfum'd nest.
That right Porphyrian Tree which did true Logick shew,
Each leaf did learned notions give,
And th' apples were demonstrative.
So clear their colour and divine,
The very shade they cast did other lights out-shine.
"Taste not," said God; "'tis mine and angels' meat;
A certain death does sit
Like an ill worm i'th' core of it.
Ye cannot know and live, nor live or know and eat."
Thus spoke God, yet Man did go
Ignorantly on to know;
Grew so more blind, and she
Who tempted him to this, grew yet more blind then he.
The onely science man by this did get,
Was but to know he nothing knew:
He straight his nakedness did view,
His ignorant poor estate, and was asham'd of it.
Yet searches probabilities,
And rhetorick, and fallacies,
And seeks by useless pride,
With slight and withering leaves that nakedness to hide.
"Henceforth," said God, "the wretched sons of earth
Shall sweat for food in vain
That will not long sustain;
And bring with labor forth each fond abortive birth.
That serpent too, their pride,
Which aims at things deny'd,
That learn'd and eloquent lust;
Instead of mounting high, shall creep upon the dust."