Wherein Poetry Chiefly Consists


Most of our modern writers nowadays
Consider not the fancy but the phrase,
As if fine words were wit, or one should say
A woman’s handsome if her clothes be gay,
Regarding not what beauty’s in the face,                              5
Nor what proportion doth the body grace,
As when her shoes be high to say she’s tall,
And when she is straight-laced to say she’s small.
When painted, or her hair is curled with art,
Though of itself ’tis2 plain, and her skin3 swart,                 10
We cannot say that from her thanks are4 due
To Nature, nor those arts in her we view.
Unless she them invented, and so taught
The world to set forth that which is stark naught.
But fancy is the eye gives life to all;                                       15
Words, the complexion, as a whited wall.
Fancy the form is: flesh, blood, skin and bone;5
Words are but shadows; substance they have none.6
But number is the motion gives the grace,
And is the count’nance of7 a well-formed face.                   20

  1. This title does not appear in 1653, so this poem could be mistaken as a continuation of the preceding one. We have adopted the title from the 1660s editions and restarted lineation.
  2. ’tis] but 1664, 1668
  3. her skin] Skin is 1653
  4. that from her thanks are] from her a Thanks is 1653
  5. the form is: flesh, blood, skin and bone;] is the Form, Flesh, Blood, Bone, Skin; 1653
  6. substance they have none.] have no Substance in. 1653
  7. count’nance of] Countenance to 1653