It struck me as odd, as I read critical works from 1908 and 1932, that the measure of merit for poets was still considered to be the development of courtly speech. I was curious whether the Cambridge History meant that only the merit of Edmund Spenser and the poets of his time was considered, in 1932, to be the development of courtly speech. And I was curious whether T.H. Ward, in his Lives of the English Poets, meant that the development of courtly speech was only the measure of merit for Cowley and the poets of his time. Or did they mean that this was the measure of poets, even in 1908 and 1932?
What the statement really struck me as was an echo of old traditions. Of course, Spenser was judged not to be as successful as he could have been in his poetry, even according to Sir Philip Sidney, because his "rustick" style didn't develop the courtly language well enough.
And, of course, Samuel Johnson said that one of Abraham Cowley's main poetic failings was not developing courtly speech. Johnson often stated that Cowley had no sense of proportion or measure in his poetical metaphors, and that he would as easily compare a noble thing with a base thing as he would compare a noble thing with a noble thing.
The scholars, in following Johnson, I think, have come to assume that all of Cowley's good poetry is terrible, and that all of his bland poetry is good. This is why, in my opinion, scholars of Cowley have come to know Cowley's "Mistress" cycle as a "cold" series of love poems rather than as an explosively hot series of love poems.
The Johnsonian tradition of judging the quality of a poem by how well it maintains morality and proportion has led the scholars to choose as the best of Cowley's poems those that best illustrate his moralizing or proportionalizing tendencies. But in this, Cowley is at his worst and most boring.
It is -- to go back to the theorist who has excited me the most lately -- a lot like what Camille Paglia says about both Coleridge and Spenser. Paglia shows that Spenser had originally given a whole set of stanzas over to basically worshipping a hermaphrodite queen. But Spenser, on his moral side, was frightened by the immoral implications of these stanzas. So he took them out.
Paglia also discusses the very pagan imagery in Coleridge's poem Christabel, which is basically a lesbian vampire romance. But Coleridge couldn't, on his moral side, stand the fact that he'd written a lesbian vampire romance. So he wrote a second part to the poem, moralizing out the frightening aspects of the feminine world he'd created, and, in effect, created a very boring second part to his poem.
If you look at the poems T.H. Ward has collected in the section of his Lives devoted to Cowley's poetry, you will see that Ward was justified, because of his critical beliefs, in choosing what poems he chose, but that he chose poems which, because of their moralizing nature, ended on images of coldness, loneliness, and despair.
In the poems Ward collects, there is a definite movement, through each poem, from the discovery of love, to the encounter with an overly-moralizing father figure. Cowley, consistent with some of his reactions in the "Mistress" cycle, bounces away from this moralizing father figure, and ends up, quite often! -- alone in a quiet universe of distant stars and cold fires.
In the same sense I believe that John Milton, though he seems to me to have been profoundly influenced by Abraham Cowley, has, at least in the metaphors he has taken directly from Cowley, to remove the amoral or immoral aspect of a lot of them. But in doing so, he also manages to send those metaphors into heatless, often even lightless, regions.
In "Il Penseroso" Milton describes the light of Melancholy, the moral champion of the poem. This light shines so brightly that nobody can see it, and that the uneducated take it to be complete darkness. And, again, in Paradise Lost, hell is a land of visible darkness and fires without heat.
I think Milton tried to avoid giving credit to Cowley's influence partly because, as Johnson says, Milton just doesn't like giving anybody credit for anything; but also partly because Milton was afraid (even in his hell) of producing metaphorical images so markedly immoral.
Given all this, what I was expecting to see in the second half of Cowley's "Mistress" cycle was the same kind of development, a kind of permanent turning-away from love and an envelopment in the cold, icy world of morality.
But I found something a lot different. In the second half of this poem cycle, Cowley finally gives over to his anima. He allows his anima to be a woman, though he himself still seems to take pleasure in being a woman as well. So the poems are often still filled with lesbian imagery.
This woman, Cowley's anima, is charged with even more powers of witchcraft than she had been charged with in the first half of the poem. Cowley quite often rages against his anima. He quite often calls her a whore. But he accepts her -- his own personal witch-whore.
The queen's animus is pretty much gone in the second half, though Cowley occasionally refers to him in some of the poems. But now another male figure arises: The Shadow.
In the first half of the poem, the real problem was Cowley being able to accept his anima as being feminine, not masculine. But once he has gotten over the fact of having a feminine anima, he now has to deal with one of the elements of his psychic life which has caused him to put up a defense against allowing the feminine anima into his life: his own masculine shadow.
In Jungian terms, the shadow is the dark side of the self. Usually, when we are conscious, there are parts of us, which, if we realized they were parts of us, and that we even act using these parts of our personality, would disgust us. We would think of them as morally bad. So we hide them from ourselves. They become unconscious. This evil-twin side of ourselves takes on a "shadowy" character.
Cowley's first problem was to accept the feminine side of himself. And the queen's animus, for some reason or another, was able to step in and cooperate with Cowley's own anima in order to make that happen. But how on earth that kind of Mystical Participation ever took place -- in the words of Tootsie Roll, "The world may never know."
In my opinion, the psychological history of Cowley may be something like this: Cowley was born after his father had died. He never got to know his father. And he had his mother all to himself. But the mother may have been a bit emotionally removed from Cowley, though at the same time intending to bring Cowley up so that he could be very successful in life.
Cowley felt like he had his mother all to himself. So on some level, he may not have seen that he, too was actually subject to the Oedipus complex: the desire of a boy to kill his father and have sex with his mother.
He also didn't have to face, in the real world, the natural process of the father "blocking" the son from this desired father-murder and mother-love. There was no father. The Oedipus complex was never "blocked" in real life. So it didn't really have to be faced. It could become the shadow side of Cowley.
However, in external life Cowley actually had to deal with a spiritual Oedipus complex, which was terribly blocked. The father in this complex was inside Cowley's mother. Cowley's mother had a husband-image inside herself, to which she probably, in my opinion, devoted too much reverence and love.
This inner husband-image of Cowley's mother was a far harsher father than a physical father could have been. Not because he more effectively blocked Cowley from his mother in the role of a lover, but because while he blocked Cowley, he didn't provide the additional thing that a physical father would have provided: the channeling of Cowley's sexual energy into the role of a son who will, in the course of time, become a man who will mate with a woman other than his own mother and, in turn, become a father.
So Cowley didn't have to face the Oedipus in himself. And, in fact, the Oedipus within himself was so removed from the activity of his family life, that it seemed to have starved itself to death, to have disappeared altogether. But the Oedipus did, of course, not die. It continued to live. As did Oedipus' father -- the father with which the Oedipus figure within Cowley wished to do battle -- the Laius.
As to who the shadow actually is in this poem cycle, I unfortunately cannot say, at least not at this point. Is it Oedipus? Is it Laius? Is it a combination of both -- both locked away and hence fused together, as many images of psychic opposites are when they are shoved into the unconscious?
At present I'm not totally sure. But the shadow does appear. And so, as Cowley comes to terms with his anima, and that part of his conflict ends (somewhat), and as the "Mistress" cycle ends, a new conflict in Cowley's own psychic life is shown to arise -- the conflict between Cowley and his shadow.
But, I hope, as Cowley's conflict with his anima was a conflict leading to integration, so will be Cowley's conflict with his shadow. However, this conflict and possible integration do not play out in the "Mistress" cycle, as far as I can see.
Below I am going to give a brief summary of each poem in the second half of the cycle. These summaries are along this very particular theme. But the poems of the cycle have a lot of other themes and merits. So this is not a full exploration of the poem cycle.
Also, the passages I quote below are from the collected works of Abraham Cowley. This collection can be found on Google Books.
ECHO -- In the previous poem, Cowley has re-stated that he is devoted to the task of bringing his anima back into his life, as she is.
In this poem, Cowley is in a deep, dark cave. He encounters a nymph there, who is compliant to all his wishes. But she is pale, thin, and blind. She's in a condition, in other words, of underdevelopment.
This matches with what Carl Jung says about the anima, as it begins to be integrated into psychic life. The anima starts out in an underdeveloped, almost larval state, as if it needs to be fed and given strength.
THE RICH RIVAL -- In this poem, Cowley addresses his father figure. Obviously he never felt good enough, through his life, to match his dead father. So he berates his father in his poem, saying that he, too, is good enough to have a female love.
AGAINST HOPE -- Cowley says that hope defeats itself in one of three ways, all the time. Either it is totally disappointed, whereby it becomes despair; or, it vanishes once a hope is fulfilled; or, it becomes disillusionment, when the thing hoped for and attained is found not to be so great after all.
This is Cowley's fantasy about women. He has become so tired of trying to "woo" his mother, and receiving nothing but coldness, that he's afraid to woo any other women. Thus he fantasizes that he never has to. He can just hope for a woman to love him. His hope will keep him constantly distanced from any woman who might inflict the same kind of pain on him that his mother did.
The poem has the lines:
"Leading them still insensibly on,
By the strange witchcraft of 'Anon!'"
I believe that this means "the strange witchcraft of a nun." A nun is a woman in a church full of women with only one physical man in her life: an abstinant priest, and only one man in her heart: the unreachable God. Yet Cowley believes that all women have the same power of magical spells that his mother seems to have. So they all must be witches. His mother is a nun and a witch. And, thus, she practices "the strange witchcraft of a nun."
FOR HOPE -- One would think this poem would have the opposite theme of its predecessor. But it doesn't. Cowley still looks at hope as the distancer. It keeps attainment away, and thus allows Cowley to avoid emotional pain.
Interestingly, in the second line, Cowley calls hope "cheap," the kind of (un)fortuitous usage of words Johnson keeps us on the lookout for. Hope is, really, cheap in Cowley's mind. Distancing from pain isn't worth it.
Again, Cowley tries to justify distancing himself from his love objects by saying that "fruition" (which could also mean the sex act leading to pregnancy, pregnancy itself, or birth) is not as good as hope, since every time a man attains something he's hoped for, he heads out, hoping for something else.
Hope is also described as "manna," which I believe is, for Cowley a word condensing "man" and "mama," in other words, father and mother. Cowley's mother, who should give him that first, syncretistically perceived food of her breast, the "manna," has withheld her own nourishing mother-love, as well as the role she, as bearer of her own animus, would play in nourishing Cowley with father-love.
LOVE'S INGRATITUDE -- Cowley first complains that his anima has filled up his heart again. But he then goes on, as he often does, to change his sex. He becomes not only a woman, but his anima's own mother. In this way he has the ability to nourish his anima back to strength.
"At mine own breast with care I fed thee still,
Letting thee suck thy fill;
Abs daintily I nourished thee
With idle thoughts and poetry! (Very Blakean lines)
What ill returns dost thou allow! --
I fed thee then, and thou dost starve me now!"
One of Cowley's complaints becomes that he had no idea his poetical fancy would lead him into the emotional turmoil of psychological transformation. But "idle thoughts and poetry" though they may seem to be to Cowley, these feedings Cowley has given his animus have all been Rationality, nothing that would help his anima survive. And so she can't possibly feed him in return.
Cowley needs to learn how to feed his anima correctly.
At the end of the poem, Cowley once again consents to let his anima have her place in his psychic life.
THE FRAILTY -- Cowley complains about having to deal with femininity and sexuality, calling it "sordid and low," but understanding that he just has to do it.
COLDNESS -- This poem explains how Cowley's mother was cold and frigid to him as he was young. Not having a father to block his Oedipal passions, he at least had a frigid mother. But, not having a father to teach him how to channel his passions, whenever a loving woman confronts him, he is overwhelmed by the violent tide of his emotions. Thus he fantasizes that he will always love a woman that will keep his rivers frozen.
Nevertheless, Cowley has progressed enough in his work with his anima to realize that he can control himself: a part of his river is actually a diamond, which cannot melt like ice into water, and which will always retain its integrity. Cowley has found the diamond center of his Self. The imperishable. This will give him strength through the rest of his journey.
ENJOYMENT -- Transsexual lesbian landforms, in my opinion. Cowley calls England Albion, a man's name, as far as I know. He then calls Albion a woman. He says the shore of the woman Albion is a white breast. Shores were defined as feminine in the poem "The Return," so Albion's shore is feminine. A masculine woman.
But in this poem, Cowley plays the Ocean, which he names as a man. But Cowley has constantly described "inconstant waves" as feminine. So the Ocean is a feminine man.
The Ocean and the Shore make passionate love with one another. So this is another one of Cowley's lesbian fantasies, strangely transsexualized, and transferred into the image of landforms instead of people.
However, Cowley says that, because of his love for his anima (the feminine Albion), even the "proudest planet" (Mars, I'd guess) could not move his love. Thus Cowley has given over his love for his father-figure and become true to his anima-love instead.
The poem is really full of emotional eroticism, kind of odd. And it has the very interesting line: "I'll kiss thee through, I'll kiss thy very soul."
SLEEP -- Again, Cowley complains that he cannot control the flood of emotions when his loving desires melt from an icy condition. His "flame's so pure that it sends up no smoke." I think this means to say his anima is no longer hidden from him, no longer obscured by smoke or clouds. But the fire, like the sun, is a masculine image. So this kind of confuses me.
Cowley invokes Sleep. He never invoked the Muses, Cupid, or Venus -- but he does "invoke" Sleep, literally. So that should point to what this poem cycle really is.
Cowley calls Sleep (not Death) the great equalizer, and asks him, for the night, to equalize him with his anima -- in other words to make him a woman. He wishes to have lesbian sex with his anima, as he still feels that's the only way she'll accept him, until Love (Cupid) shows Cowley his favor. In other words, Cowley has the anima in him, but is still dealing with the animus-based rejection of his mother. And he's trying to find a male figure in himself who will help him get his anima's approval.
BEAUTY -- Cowley despairs of being loved by his anima, so he calls female love ("beauty") beastly.
Cowley then tries to re-decorate the Bower. But the anima has control over it. So he tries to re-light it, at least, with masculine, Apollonian light, so that he can at least see the feminine Bower in a masculine way.
Cowley thinks of love as being nothing more than anima projection onto a female body:
"Pretending to dwell richly in the eye,
When thou, alas!, dost in the fancy lie."
Cowley also calls the anima a devil and a murderer.
THE PARTING -- This, I believe, is a poem in memory of "The Welcome" and "The Heart Fled Again." Cowley now recognizes that he does need to find a male figure which would have been his father-figure to be a counterpoint for his animus.
Cowley sees himself as parting from his father in the guise of his anima. But he sees himself as a male Sun as well. Cowley imagines that this male figure can help him and his anima create a fully integrated personality in Cowley:
"Thou truly who, in many a propriety,
So truly art the sun to me,
Add one more likeness, which I'm sure you can,
And let me and my sun beget a man."
MY PICTURE -- Another poem from the viewpoint of Cowley's father. (Maybe this and the father of "The Parting" are actually the Queen's animus?)
In this poem, the father gives Cowley a picture of himself. The father says that as Cowley concentrates on the picture, the picture and the father will change places:
"This will the substance, I the shadow be."
Interestingly, the Queen's animus again acts to lessen the fear in Cowley by saying he will be the shadow, while Cowley's shadow will be the benevolent father.
"Ah! be not frighted if you see
The new-soul'd picture gaze on thee."
I love these lines. They remind me of the picture of the dead boy that winks at the other boy in Stephen King's It.
But what's also interesting is the word "soul'd." Cowley often indicates that his anima is a prostitute by saying she's "sold." Here a soul is "soul'd." So Cowley's anima is a prostitute because Cowley still has a hard time discriminating between being "sold" and "soul'd."
There's a little jab at Cowley's inability to integrate his personality in the following stanza:
"But thou who (if I know thee right)
I'th' substance dost not much delight,
Wilt rather send again for me,
Who then shall but thy picture's picture be."
THE CONCEALMENT -- Cowley's passions are still too strong for him, and he fantasizes again of the rejecting mother.
However, Cowley also makes himself a sacrifice to his anima. When his anima opens Cowley up, she finds he's breathed out his heart. Of course he has! She's his heart!
But Cowley believes his anima, who he still sees as a rejecting mother, will take pity on Cowley, and that she:
"Shall grace my funerals with this truth;
' 'Twas only Love destroy'd the gentle youth!'"
Again, Cowley sees not the anima as the missing ingredient now -- she just engaged in a big ritual sex-murder fantasy with him. Cowley now sees the missing ingredient to be the Love (Cupid). Love in Cowley's mother's heart destoy'd the youth Cowley. Now Cowley needs to find a new Love to share love with his anima. This would be the shadow, I'd guess.
THE MONOPOLY -- Cupid has his very forge in Cowley's heart. Cowley stops calling Love Love and starts calling him Cupid. Love, in my opinion, now starts showing up in these poems as -- Venus: the anima. But Cupid, here, finally has his name spoken.
"Ah cruel God! and why gave you to me
This cursed monopoly?"
Monopoly is, I think, here, a synthesis of "man," "mom," "monarchy," and "polis."
Cowley complains that if he were Cupid, he'd really sink his dart into a girl. But his Cupid doesn't allow him to do anything except get girls faintly interested in a woman and then run off. Cupid doesn't kill women, like he did Cowley, i.e. in the previous poem:
"Curse on thy goodness, whom we find
Civil to none but womankind!"
Cowley still thinks of the animus in his mother as rejecting. And Cowley thinks the only way to find real love is to be a woman. Hence all the lesbian fantasies (which are hot anway, so thank goodness for them):
"Thy broken arrows 'twixt tha sex and ours
So unjustly are distributed
They take thy feathers, we the head."
THE DISTANCE -- This poem is a reference to the Queen, who Cowley may have thought of as a mother. But it's also a reference to Cowley's process of transformation. Distance would seem to refer to the father again. But I don't think it does in this case.
THE INCREASE -- This is an encouraging poem, in contrast to the previous one, where Cowley seemed exhausted and in despair. Now he says he's willing to continue his process of transformation
"A real cause at first did move;
But mine own fancy now drives on my love
With shadows from itself that flow."
I'd assume the shadow is another reference to the shadow, the Jungian shadow, which is the next part that Cowley is trying to integrate into his personality.
"All violent motions short do prove;
But by the length 'tis plain to see
That Love's a motion natural to me."
I can't say for sure whether this is Love as Cupid or Venus or both. I'm guessing it's Venus, since Cowley's anima is now integrating with him, so that her motions are becoming natural to Cowley.
LOVE'S VISIBILITY -- Love, here as Cupid, is accepted like the anima as nymph had done in the cave. Cowley complains he has tried to hide his Cupid, in this case his shadow, from the outside world. But while his shadow has remained unconscious to him, the people around him have seen it -- often making Cowley look like a fool!
"Love's of a strangely open, simple kind,
Can no arts or disguises find,
But thinks none sees it cause itself is blind."
LOOKING ON, AND DISCOURSING WITH, HIS MISTRESS -- Cowley despairs that he'll never find the animus which will allow him to manage the passions of his anima, and that he will have to keep his passions frozen.
"They then sit down and weep in vain,
And there in darkness and despair remain."
RESOLVED TO LOVE -- I'd assumed this poem would be like the "Resolved To Be Beloved" poem in the first half, and mention the compass needle and big North Pole. But it was more like the conversation with the old man in "The Soul," which I have concluding the first half of the cycle.
In this poem however, it's not the transmigration of souls that baffles the wise men, but the emotional power of love. The wise men don't understand love's pain. But the wisest man (Solomon, I'm guessing?) did. So Cowley feels okay.
MY FATE -- Now the compass needle and pole appear!
"Go bid the needle his fair North forsake."
Cowley has forsaken the quest for an animus that would replace the rejecting mother. He has accepted the anima as she is. But he is still searching for her counterpart, the shadow.
Nevertheless, Cowley has accepted his anima as one of his guiding powers on his quest, even so that his superstition regarding father figures no longer frightens him so much, as shown here:
"You, who men's fortunes in their faces read,
To find out mine, look not, alas!, on me;
But mark her face, and all the features heed;
For only there is writ my destiny."
"If thou find there kind and propitious rays,
What Mars and Saturn threaten I'll not fear."
Mars is the god of war (and the husband of Venus?). Saturn is the father who ate his children.
THE HEART BREAKING -- This may sound like romance. But I think it's demon possession. Cowley is not feeling the passions of Venus here, but the passions of his personal Cupid, his shadow.
So far, the shadows have flowed through Cowley. In a later poem, we'll see that Cowley calls his shadows Legion -- the thousands of Devils that possess a man. Cowley here in fact says that many Loves (in this case, many Cupids) rule him, changing his inner life from a British Monarchy to a Greek Tyranny. This makes sense. Cupid's "forge" does sound a bit Hephaestian.
THE USURPATION -- On a number of occasions in the first half of the poem, Cowley's anima overwhelmed him. Now it seems that the shadow is overwhelming Cowley. I don't know if Cowley thinks this is actually his anima doing this to him, though. But I'm pretty sure it's the shadow, not the anima. But since the effect, a feeling of enslavement, seems to follow on Cowley's having accepted the anima, Cowley must blame this all on the anima, for now, not quite able to see the shadow.
"I was mine own, and free,
Till I had giv'n myself to thee;
But thou hast kept me slave and prisoner since."
Cowley sees the shadow as a dragon, which he must slay in order to rescue the anima, as seen here:
"Thy presence, like the crowned basilisk's breath,
All other serpents puts to death."
"Alas, alas! I hope in vain
My conquered soul from out thine hands to gain."
MAIDENHEAD -- Cowley complains that before he'd accepted his anima, she'd been frozen, like a hymen protecting her chastity and Cowley's burning desires. But now Cowley had let his anima live more freely, she's brought forth shadow dragons to attack her!
"Yet barren quite, didst thou not bring
Monsters and serpents forth thyself to sting!"
Cowley still equates his shadow with his anima, and thus transforms his anima into a kind of hermaphroditic uroboros.
But Cowley sees that his nun-witch anima is actually prisoner to the shadow:
"Thou that bewitchest men whilst thou dost dwell
Like a close conjurer in his cell."
Here's an interesting quote, where Cowley complains that he had to give up his father figure to gain his anima, but that he now has to deal with a Confused Mass of shadow figures. The thing lost is Cowley's father, whom Cowley's mother couldn't keep alive.
"Thou thing of subtle, slippery kind,
Which women lose, and yet no man can find!"
Cowley, however, will fight to find his shadow.
"Although I think thou never found wilt be,
Yet I'm resolved to search for thee."
Here the shadow takes on a human form, as guardian (Laius, in this strange kind of Laius-Oedipus configuration). The image reminds me of the Vermeer painting where the woman is sleeping while the shadowy man stands in the doorway.
"Say what thou wilt, chastity is no more
Thee, than a porter in his door."
IMPOSSIBILITIES -- Cowley feels certain he will win this fight and integrate his personality. But he still seems a little ambivalent about the passions his anima inspires in him, and he still seems to wish for distance.
"True lovers are by Fortune oft envied;
Oft earth and hell against them strive;
But Providence engages on their side,
And a good end at last does give;
At last, jusf men and lovers always thrive."
"Such seas betwixt us easily conquer'd are;
But, gentle maid! do not deny
To let thy beams shine on me from afar."
SILENCE -- Cowley feels that by accepting his anima, he has allowed her vaginal opening to allow demons, or shadows, to flow or be born into his life.
Cowley considers closing up this vagina, so that no more demons can be born. But he resolves not to do so. In fact, he believes that:
"It will ne'er heal; my love will never die,
Though it should speechless lie."
A fact Cowley already knows all too well.
THE DISSEMBLER -- Cowley calls Cupid, his shadow, the Devil:
"But now I feel thy mighty evil:
Alas! there's no fooling with the devil."
Cowley reflects on this whole transformative process being the result of his having challenged Cupid with Medean curses at the beginning of the "Mistress" cycle. It was all just a joke, just fancy, he says. But, boy, is he ever paying for it now!
Cowley feels like all this work has dulled and dampened his poetic life. Characteristic of depression. But his art has become something more than he'd intended:
"The play at last a truth does grow."
THE INCONSTANT -- The shadow is presented as Cupid, and Cupid as Legion:
"Love, thou'rt a devil, if I may call thee one;
For sure in me thy name is Legion."
Cowley compares himself to a honeybee returning home with no honey. He's still a drone for the Queen.
Cowley also reflects on his mother's rejection blasting his passions to tinders. Now, any small passion will burst into flames of excitement for Cowley. And this is obviously what he's trying to cure in himself.
THE CONSTANT -- Cowley remains committed to keeping his anima alive, as she is.
HER NAME -- This poem says "Her Name." But I think it's really about the shadow. Nevertheless, I'm confused by it. So I won't guess. Here are two interesting lines:
"With more than Jewish reverence as yet
Do I the sacred name reveal."
But, if memory serves me right, the Jewish reverence doesn't conceal the name of Lilith. It conceals the name of God, the male. In other words Cowley's shadow. But this time Cowleys shadow is God, not the Devil. Perhaps Cowley has managed to identify the shadow negatively and thus separate him in his mind from the anima. But now that he can also identify the shadow positively, he has a hard time, all over again, separating the shadow from the anima.
WEEPING -- Cowley addresses a "charming maid," who is weeping. The maid is probably the anima, less enslaved to the shadow, but still in a subdued position. However, Cowley warns the maid off fro weeping, lest Sorrow think she's so beautful doing so that she comes and possesses the maid.
Cowley seems to be identifying the shadow with a woman, as he'd previously identified the anima with a man. I think this makes sense of the "sunshine and rain together." The maid is bright. Her crying is wet. It's like the sun shining behind the clouds. Previously that signified the anima possessing Cowley's masculine conception of her. Now I think the reality of the shadow is attempting to shine out from the anima.
DISCRETION -- Cowley commits himself to his anima.
THE WAITING MAID -- Cowley seems to be attempting to separate the positive side of his shadow from his anima. Legion has become a choir of angels. But they still seem to be embodied in the anima. The anima, still bound to the shadow, is seen as a maid. But she wants to be a mistress. Cowley wishes to comply, and he's trying to figure out how to do so.
"The minist'ring angels none can see;
'Tis not their beauty or face,
For which by men they worshipp'd be;
But their high office, and their place;
Thou art my Goddess, my Saint she;
I pray to her, only to pray to thee."
COUNSEL -- Cowley has healed to the degree that his passions are no longer small kindling. They have the ability to be strong, and thus, I would assume, constant.
Interestingly, the previous "Counsel" was a poem on assuaging grief through the tongue. In this case, "Counsel" is denied. Cowley is not in grief. He is determined in his passions. And counsel against his passion will only make him more passionate.
THE CURE -- Cowley makes himself, apparently, the sacrifice of a male witch: a doctor. Cowley wishes to be cured of his love, but not by healing up and closing his anima's vagina, as in "Silence," but by being tortured and gouged all over again!
THE SEPARATION -- Cowley wishes to separate his shadow from his anima. But his anima, as his beloved, is still identified with his mother. Cowley's mother's animus was very strong. Cowley still seems to be dealing with trying to reclaim some of his shadow from whatever portion of it (probably the Laius portion in Cowley's strange Laius-Oedipus configuration) he's lost.
But Cowley thinks this separation means a separation from the anima. If he separates the anima from what's in the anima, he'll lose what the anima loves. Is this the only part of Cowley that the anima loves? And if it leaves, will the anima stop loving Cowley? Is it only able to love Cowley while the love is internalized in this way?
These are the questions Cowley ponders. He ends by imagining this aspect of his shadow hovering around his (actually his anima's) grave. This is what Cowley fears: a return of silence to the anima.
THE TREE -- A Satanic reversal of the crucifixion of Christ. Cowley goes back to the bower, which the anima possesses. He carves the sacred name of his shadow in the tree. The poisonous passion of the shadow's name actually manages to burn down the tree! Cowley says, "Love, I see now, a kind of witchcraft is."
The shadow has managed to free itself of the anima. Identification with the anima would now only kill the anima. In other words, Cowley feared that if the shadow was completely individuated from the anima, the anima would be silent and dead. Instead, Cupid shows Cowley that unless he is free of the anima, he can't integrate into Cowley's personality alongside the anima.
HER UNBELIEF -- Cowley says his mistress is blind to his shows of love. He offers her smoky sacrifices, as if to a deity. But she won't take them.
I'd guess the smoky sacrifices -- the smoke itself -- is the shadow, which Cowley is now trying to put back inside of the anima. But she won't take it! So Cowley is conflicted.
I think Cowley's real conflict here is a fear. His previous encounters with the negative side of the shadow were scary enough. Now the positive shadow wants to emerge. But this is what thwarted Cowley's relationship with his mother in the first place. This seems a lot scarier than beating up dragons. Wouldn't it be nicer to keep the shadow inside the anima?
THE GAZERS -- Cowley tells the mistress to stop being a statue. I think the statue portion of the anima comes from the positive shadow remaining in the anima for too long.
The poem is mainly, though, about physical love between a man and a woman. Cowley is trying to beckon his mistress away, so they can make love, as a man and a woman. That's a pretty big step, for Cowley. He says that love dead as an infant is better than love living in constant childhood. Which means he wants to grow up.
Cowley actually, then is performing a magic spell to remove the shadow from the anima altogether. The anima is no longer a statue. She is a woman.
THE INCURABLE -- The poem "The Cure" was to a male witch, a doctor, whom Cowley charged with giving him a sex-change. Cowley was hoping that masculine, conscious Reason could make a substitute for femininity. In this way, Cowley wouldn't have had to face his task, which was to separated the positive side of his shadow from his anima.
But Cowley now realizes his error. He knows that to act only with the reason of the wise-men (who constantly show up befuddled throughout the "Mistress" cycle!) is to act blindly. So Cowley must face his fears and allow his shadow and anima to live side by side, not merged.
HONOUR -- So who does Cowley meet in this poem? His shadow -- as Honor! Butr Honor doesn't wish to leave the anima. And it appears the anima (as Io?) has to fight to rid herself of the shadow. The anima might actually be the burning town into which the victorius fighter (Io?) enters.
I'm not sure if Io is the Io I'm thinking of, or if I've even identified the Io in my head correctly. I'm thinking of the woman cursed by Hera for loving Zeus, who was then chased to the ends of the earth by a gadfly that drove her crazy.
The fact is, if this is the correct Io, my theory would be that Cowley, having finally decided to dis-identify his positive shadow from his anima, cannot do so as a man. He seems to need to wear the guise of a woman to do things for the first time a lot of times. So Cowley takes on the guise of Io, a woman persecuted by the mother-god with a gadfly.
If the mother-god is Cowley's mother, and the gadfly the shadow, it would be easy to see how the anima could identify with Io. Then Cowley would fight for the anima as the anima (fighting for lesbian love). And he would fight to take the shadow out of the anima's castle.
This is interesting. First, the shadow is seen as a serpent. That's the negative side. Cowley has to remove that from the anima. Now the positive shadow is a male warrior, Honor. It's a development of the shadow's own personality. Also, where the negative shadow had been keeping the anima prisoner, the anima, as city walls, is now holding the positive shadow against her will.
THE INNOCENT ILL -- The positive shadow, as Saint, is now out of the anima. But this seems to disgust Cowley with the anima again, and he says how she holds a brothel in the hearts of all men!
DIALOGUE -- I think this answers Cowley's disgust. Without Honor habored inside the anima, Cowley is unsure of the anima's honor. In this "romantic" dialogue, the anima asks Cowley:
"What have we done? What cruel passion mov'd thee,
Thus to ruin her that lov'd thee?"
Cowley's anima answers her own question -- she isn't ruin'd. She has no Honor, but she is still honorable:
"Curse on thine arts! methinks I hate thee now.
And yet I'm sure I love thee, too."
Interestingly, Cowley has, right here, chosen to create a dialogue between himself and his mistress. The fact of this is, I feel, clear evidence that Cowley has been attempting at, and has finally attained, the liberation of his anima.
VERSES LOST UPON A WAGER -- Cowley "moralizes" on his struggle, which has now, for the present, seemed to have concluded. He says that reason is no guide in the feminine world of the anima, and that poetry is no guide either:
"If Nature gave me power to write in verse,
She gave it me thy praises to rehearse."
BATHING IN A RIVER -- Cowley's strange marriage poem to the anima. She shines like the light of the moon and attracts fish. She would apparently be ithyphallic. But I think what's really happening is that the anima is the only light. The fish are the shadow. Now that they are separate from the anima they need to integrate into the shadow again, and then integrate into Cowley's own personality.
LOVE GIVEN OVER -- I believe Cowley is done for now. I think he hopes he's done for good. The thought of having to integrate a whole other psychic element into his personality seems like way too much! And he fantasizes that he won't have to do it again:
"But death and love are never found
To give a second wound."
Oh, they don't, do they? Well, let's give Cowley the rest he deserves. His efforts have gotten him quite far.