Platonic Love

By Abraham Cowley 1618–1667 Abraham Cowley

   Indeed I must confess,
   When souls mix ’tis an happiness,
But not complete till bodies too do join,
And both our wholes into one whole combine;
But half of heaven the souls in glory taste
   Till by love in heaven at last
   Their bodies too are placed.


   In thy immortal part
   Man, as well as I, thou art.
But something ’tis that differs thee and me,
And we must one even in that difference be.
I thee both as a man and woman prize,
   For a perfect love implies
   Love in all capacities.


   Can that for true love pass
   When a fair woman courts her glass?
Something unlike must in love’s likeness be:
His wonder is one and variety.
For he whose soul nought but a soul can move
   Does a new Narcissus prove,
   And his own image love.


   That souls do beauty know
   ’Tis to the body’s help they owe;
If when they know’t they straight abuse that trust
And shut the body from’t, ’tis as unjust
As if I brought my dearest friend to see
   My mistress and at th’instant he
   Should steal her quite from me.

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Poet Abraham Cowley 1618–1667


SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Subjects Love, Desire

 Abraham  Cowley


Poet and essayist Abraham Cowley was born in London, England, in 1618. He displayed early talent as a poet, publishing his first collection of poetry, Poetical Blossoms (1633), at the age of 15. Cowley studied at Cambridge University but was stripped of his Cambridge fellowship during the English Civil War and expelled for refusing to sign the Solemn League and Covenant of 1644. In turn, he accompanied Queen Henrietta Maria to . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Desire


SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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