I and II Source: ΣΥΝΩΔΙΑ sive Musarum Cantabrigiensium concentus et congratulatio ad serenissimum Britanniarum regem Carolum de quinta sua sobole, clarissima principe, sibi nuper felicissime nata (Cambridge, 1637) sig. N2v. Meter: elegiac couplets.
I.3 Princess Anne was the fifth child (not counting Charles James, Duke of Cornwall, who was stillborn).
I.4 The reference is presumably to the time of the appearance of the present volume.
II To understand this epigram, one must understand Cowley’s rather forced conceit: he writes as if Charles and Henrietta Maria are engaged in a contest over the production of male or female children, as each strives to manufacture the more living portraits of themselves for the delectation of their loving subjects. Now that Princess Anne has been born they have two sons (Charles and James) and three daughters (Mary, Elizabeth, and Anne), so that the Queen is characterized as the winner. The epigram perhaps makes more sense when one recalls that both Charles and Henrietta Maria were frequently painted by Van Dyck and other leading artists of the day.
III and IV Source: Voces votivae ab academicis Cantabrigiensibus pro novissimo Caroli et Mariae principe filio emissae (Cambridge, 1640) sig. F4v. Meter: elegiac couplets. Queen Henrietta Maria presented Charles I with no less than nine children (of whom two were stillborn and one died in early childhood).
II.6 Her “method” or “scheme” is, over time, to give birth to more daughters than sons.
III.7 Lucina, Roman goddess of childbirth, was frequently identified with the moon-goddess Diana.
III.7 I. e., every year will see her pregnant.
V Source: Irenodia Cantabrigiensis ob paciferum serenissimi regis Caroli e Scotia reditum mense Novembri 1641 (Cambridge, 1641), sig. B4v. For some reason — perhaps because his Royalist sympathies led him to spring to the defense of his King — Cowley was moved to wrote a cycle of eight short English poems on the King’s return (first published in the the 1656 Poems volume cited immediately below, pp. 7f.), but none of those translates the present item. With its far-fetched imagery, this poem is not easy to understand (or to translate). The reason, no doubt, is that there is little about which Cowley could speak plainly. Meter: Elegiac couplets.
V.9f. The statement that the sun is larger than the earth reflects the new perspectives of contemporary astronomy. The idea that the Orcades came close to seeing Apollo being born evidently has to do with the fact that the Orkneys, being the northernmost part of Charles’ kingdom, come closest to being able to see the midnight sun (the island of Delos was birthplace in mythology).
V.16 Probably Apollo’s horses are horrentes simply because they are disheveled by their mad gallop through the sky, but possibly Cowley is thinking of the shaggy ponies of the north.
V.23 Actually, it was antiquarians (such as William Camden), not grammarians, who concerned themselves with the etymologies and ethographic implications of such words as these.
VI Source: Abraham Cowley, Poems, viz. i. Miscellanies, ii. The Mistress, or Loves Verses, iii. Pindarique Odes, and iv.) Davideis, or, a Sacred Poem of the Troubles of David (London, 1656) sigs. A1r - A2r. Meter: elegiac couplets. Cowley was one of the Fellows ejected from Cambridge in 1643 because of their Royalist sympathies.
VI.12 As if he were a supposititious child, switched at birth for the genuine Cowley.
VI.34ff. The Granta is another name for the River Cam. For Cowley’s tendency to idealize academic life, cf. Davideis I.766ff.
VI.41 Enna or Henna was a town in central Sicily sacred to Ceres (in antiquity Sicily was notable for its bounteous production of grain).
VI.58 Mention of the Seine (although not the Tiber) is biographically significant, since in the mid 1640’s Cowley had followed Quen Henrietta Maria into exile.
VI.61 Willows grow along the Cam.
VI.73 Infami here means “perilous,” “notorious for its danger”: cf. Horace, Odes I.iii.20, infamis scopulos Acroceraunia with Porphyrio’s explanation of the locution: ait propter atrocitatem naufragiorum, quae ibi multi patuntur.
VI.76 In English Neo-Latin literature the Universities and their Colleges are frequently described as sanctuaries of Minerva, Apollo, and the Muses.
VI.86ff. Cowley refers to the incident in Book VII of the Iliad in which Diomedes inflicts a wound on Aphrodite.
VII Source: Thomas Sprat (ed.), Abrahami Couleii Angli poemata Latina (London, 1688), sigs. b1r-v. Meter: elegiac couplets.
VII.8 Another allusion to his ejection.
VIII Source: Ib. pp. 407 - 410. Meter: Sapphic stanzas. Cowley’s English version comes from Works, final section, pp. 35 - 38. Kinney states this poem as beginning by “daringly conflating Genesis 1:2 - 3 with Hesiod’s Theogony 116 - 24,” and compares the apostrophe to light in the first twelve lines of Paradise Lost, Book III. A literal translation by Kinney is available here.
IX Source, Ib. pp. 411 - 413. Meter: dactylic hexameters. Cowley’s lifelong friend and correspondent Martin Clifford [d. 1677] had attended Trinity College with our poet. A talented and outspoken satiric poet, in 1671 he was elected Master of Charterhouse. Cf. for his correspondence with Cowley, cf. A. Pritchard, “Six letters by Cowley,” Review of English Studies n. s. 18 (1967), 253 – 63. Thomas Sprat’s life of Cowley prefacing the present volume is addressed to Clifford. (Biography in O. D. N. B.) Clifford has sent Cowley some satiric poem entitled Pessimus omnium poeta — the title is taken from Catullus xlix.5f.— and our poet pretends to take umbrage. This poem goes to show that Cowley had a certain flair for writing humorous Latin verse, and one regrets that he did not indulge himself in this vein more often.
IX.1 I. e., a gift that is no gift at all. For the idiom cf. Michael Gabras, epistulae cxlvii.105, καὶ τὸ Προμηθέως δὲ οὐκ ἔλαττον ἄν τις ὀΐσαιτο, ὅπερ νάρθηκι ἐνθάψας δῶρον ἄδωρον, κακοεργόν, οὐκ ὀνήσιμον ἀνθρώποις παρέσχετο.
IX.7 Cf. Aeneid II.49, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes. The reference is of course to the Trojan Horse, that most unwelcome of all gifts, designed by Sinon, to whom Cowley compares is friend below.
IX.17 Cf. the first line of Lucan’s Bellum Civile, Bella per Emathios plus quam civilia campos.
IX.21 Cf. Iliad VI.422 = XXII.105, αἰδέομαι Τρῶας καὶ Τρῳάδας ἑλκεσιπέπλους.
HIX31 Cf. Juvenal i.4ff.:
inpune diem consumpserit ingens
Telephus aut summi plena iam margine libri
scriptus et in tergo necdum finitus Orestes?
H.54 “The laughing philosopher.”
X Source: Ib. p. 414. Meter: elegiac couplets. Cowley’s English version comes from Works, final section, p. 42. Cf. the English poem Sitting and Drinking in the Chair, made out of the Reliques of Sir Francis Drakes Ship (ib. pp. 8 - 10).
X.4 The ship is, so to speak, Pythagorean, because Pythagoras taught that human souls are subject to reincarnation, and the Golden Hind has been reborn as a chair.
XI Source: Ib. pp. 415 - 417. Meter: Sapphic stanzas. Cowley’s English version appears embedded in a prose essay “Of Solitude ” pulbished in Works, final section, pp. 93 - 95. A literal translation by Kinney is available here.
XII Source: Ib. pp. 418f. Meter: Sapphic stanzas. Cowley’s English translation, embedded in an essay on “The shortness of Life and uncertainty of Riches,” appear in Works, final section, pp. 138f. A literal translation by Kinney is available here.
XIII Source: Ib. p. 420. Meter: Alcaic stanzas. The anonymous translation — Kinney suggested it may be by Nahum Tate — come from Thomas Sprat (ed.), The Third Part of the Works of Mr. Abraham Cowley Being his Six Books of Plants (London, 1689) sig. b3v. Kinney provides translations by Joseph Addison, William Cullen Bryant, and others.