Christmas at the Bodleian

November 30, 2015



This photo got us thinking about trees, knowledge, the Bodleian and so forth… and this forgotten 'literary' gem is what we came across! Enjoy!


Pindarique Ode

Mr. Cowley's Book presenting it self to the University Library of Oxford

from Works (1668; editor's copy)


HAil Learnings Pantheon! Hail the sacred Ark

Where all the World of Science do's imbarque!

Which ever shall withstand, and hast so long withstood,

Insatiate Times devouring Flood.


Hail Tree of Knowledg, thy leaves Fruit! which well

Dost in the midst of Paradise arise,

Oxford the Muses Paradise,

From which may never Sword the blest expell.


Abraham Cowley (1618 – 1667). Cowley was a popular and influential poet and dramatist in his day. Elected to Trinity College Cambridge, he was kicked out in 1643 by Parliamentarians for his Royalist views.  He then spent time in Oxford (where he obviously got bitten by the Bodleian bug!) with King Charles, leaving with the Queen for Paris after the Royalist defeat at the Battle of Marston Moor (July 2 1644).


The ‘Pindarique’ form he adopted tries to copy the Latin style and form of the Classical poet Pindar’s Odes. Although not an accurate metric reflection of Pindar, Cowley’s attempt proved influential. Wordsworth’s ‘Intimations on Mortality’ follows that same Pindaric tradition.


After the defeat of the Spanish Armada (1588), Oxford increasingly became identified as ‘The Athens of the North’ with, as here, the Bodleian, its ‘Pantheon’. Within this 'Muses Paradise', The Tree of Knowledge arises and bears fruit.


Merry Christmas from Chris and David 2015



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