Cowley’s Essays

Author: Abraham Cowley


When Epicurus to the world had taught
That pleasure was the chiefest good,
(And was perhaps i’ th’ right, if rightly understood)
His life he to his doctrine brought,
And in a garden’s shade that sovereign pleasure sought.
Whoever a true epicure would be,
May there find cheap and virtuous luxury.
Vitellius his table, which did hold
As many creatures as the Ark of old,
That fiscal table, to which every day
All countries did a constant tribute pay,
Could nothing more delicious afford
Than Nature’s liberality,
Helped with a little art and industry,
Allows the meanest gardener’s board.
The wanton taste no fish or fowl can choose
For which the grape or melon she would lose,
Though all the inhabitants of sea and air
Be listed in the glutton’s bill of fare;
Yet still the fruits of earth we see
Placed the third storey high in all her luxury.


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Chicago: Abraham Cowley, "6," Cowley’s Essays, ed. Keil, Heinrich, 1822-1894 and trans. Seaton, R. C. in Cowley’s Essays (New York: George E. Wood, ""Death-bed"" edition, 1892), Original Sources, accessed March 1, 2024,

MLA: Cowley, Abraham. "6." Cowley’s Essays, edited by Keil, Heinrich, 1822-1894, and translated by Seaton, R. C., in Cowley’s Essays, New York, George E. Wood, ""Death-bed"" edition, 1892, Original Sources. 1 Mar. 2024.

Harvard: Cowley, A, '6' in Cowley’s Essays, ed. and trans. . cited in ""Death-bed"" edition, 1892, Cowley’s Essays, George E. Wood, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 1 March 2024, from