1. Included here are thirteen short poems by Abraham Cowley, gathered from several different sources. The first five items come from university anthologies published during his time at Cambridge: I and II come from ΣΥΝΩΔΙΑ sive Musarum Cantabrigiensium concentus et congratulatio ad serenissimum Britanniarum regem Carolum de quinta sua sobole, clarissima principe, sibi nuper felicissime nata (1637), celebrating the birth of Princess Anne (17 March, 1637); III and IV come from Voces votivae ab academicis Cantabrigiensibus pro novissimo Caroli et Mariae principe filio emissae (1640), celebrating the birth of Henry, Duke of Gloucester (8 July, 1640), and V comes from from Irenodia Cantabrigiensis ob paciferum serenissimi regis Caroli e Scotia reditum mense Novembri 1641 (Cambridge, 1641), issued to mark Charles’ return from Scotland soon after the signing of the Treaty of London, putting an end to the so-called Second Bishop’s’ War. Charles had attempted to force the Scots to adopt Anglicanism, which led to disastrous wars in 1639 and 1640 and occupation of the north of England by the Scots Covenanters. He was obliged to abandon his religious ambitions and pay the Scots a large indemnity. The whole sorry affair did much to undermine Charles’ authority and widen the breach between Crown and Parliament, which sympathized with the Covenanters. The present anthology, of course, sought to put the best face possible on the (the idea of issuing an academic anthology congratulating a sovereign for suffering a military defeat and being obliged to face its unpleasant consequences seems strange and surely makes this the oddest of the series of such academic poetry volumes issued by both universities in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries).
2. VI stands at the beginning Cowley’s Poems (London, 1656). Cowley was one of the Fellows ejected from Cambridge in 1643 because of their Royalist sympathies, and in this poem he looks back at his time there with nostalgic regret. The remainder of the items in this collection are a from the final portion (labeled Miscellanea) of the posthumous volume Abrahami Couleii Angli poemata Latina edited by the poet’s friend and designated literary executor Thomas Sprat (London, 1668). Most of these are written in various lyric meters. Because of the nature of their contents, nothing can be said about their respective dates of composition. English translations of the majority of these items, made by Cowley himself, are to be found in The Works of Thomas Cowley (London, 1688, also edited by Sprat).
3. Two further Latin poems by Cowley are not included here because they appear elsewhere in The Philological Museum: the dedicatory poem addressed to Dr. Thomas Comber prefacing the 1638 edition of the Latin comedy Naufragium Ioculare and the poem Ergo iterum versus appended to the Praefatio autoris which stands at the beginning of De Plantis (one wonders whether the unnamed addressee of that poem may have been Sprat, or perhaps Martin Clifford, for whom poem IX of the present collection is written). To these might be added, if one chooses, the metaphrase of Psalm 114 embedded in Book I of the Davideis written in Alcaic stanzas (555 - 94). Many poets wrote such psalm metaphrases both in Latin and in the vernacular as technical or spiritual exercises, and it is not inconceivable that this passage was originally written independently.
4. Texts and translations of some of the more important poems in the 1688 collection are already available in electronic form on the cite The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive maintained by Daniel Kinney and others. I wish to acknowledge my gratitude for several textual improvements already suggested by Kinney, which are acknowledged here at the appropriate points. Texts of Cowley’s English works are also available on the Web at the sites Luminarium (Aniina Jokinen) and Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the Poets Penn State Eighteenth-century Archive (Kathleen Nulton Kemmerer).