If everything hath sense and reason, then
There might be beasts, and birds, and fish, and men
As vegetables and minerals, had they
The animal shape to express that way;
And vegetables and minerals may know 5
As man, though like to trees and stones they grow.1
Then coral trouts may through the water glide,
And pearled minnows swim on either side,
And mermaids, which in the sea delight,
Might all be made of watery lilies white, 10
Set on salt wat’ry billows as they flow,
Which like green banks appear thereon to grow.
And mariners i’th’midst their ship might stand
Instead of mast, hold sails in either hand.
On mountain tops the Golden Fleece2 might feed, 15
Some hundred years their ewes bring forth their breed.
Large deer of oak might through the forest run,
Leaves on their heads might keep them from the sun;
Instead of shedding horns, their leaves might fall,
And acorns to increase a wood of fawns withal. 20
Then might a squirrel for a nut be cracked,
If nature had that matter so compact,
And the small sprouts which on the husk do grow
Might be the tail, and make a brushing show.
Then might the diamonds which on rocks oft lie 25
Be all like to some little sparkling fly.
Then might a leaden hare, if swiftly run,
Melt from that shape, and so a pig become.3
And dogs of copper-mouths sound like a bell,
So when they kill a hare, ring out his knell.4 30
Hard iron men shall have no cause to fear
To catch a fall, when they a-hunting were,
Nor in the wars should have no use of arms,
Nor feared5 to fight; they could receive no harms.
For if a bullet on their breasts should hit, 35
Fall on their back, but straightways up may get,
Or if a bullet on their head do light,
May make them totter, but not kill them quite.
And stars be like the birds with twinkling wing,
When in the air they fly, like larks might sing, 40
And as they fly, like wandering planets show,
Their tails may like to blazing comets grow.
When they on trees do rest themselves from flight,
Appear like fixed stars in clouds of night.
Thus may the sun be like a woman fair,6 45
And the bright beams be as her flowing hair,
And from her eyes may cast a silver light,
And when she sleeps, the world be as dark night.
Or women may of alabaster be,
And so as smooth as polished ivory, 50
Or as clear crystal, where hearts may be shown,
And all their falsehoods to the world be known,
Or else be made of rose, and lilies white,
Both fair and sweet, to give the soul delight,
Or else be made like tulips fresh in May, 55
By nature dressed, clothed several colours gay.
Thus every year there may young virgins spring,
But wither and decay as soon again.
While they are fresh, upon their breast might set
Great swarms of bees, from thence sweet honey get. 60
Or on their lips, for gillyflowers, flies
Drawing delicious sweet that therein lies.
Thus every maid like several flowers show,
Not in their shape, but like in substance grow.
Then tears which from oppressèd hearts do rise, 65
May gather into clouds within the eyes,
From whence those tears, like showers of rain may flow
Upon the banks of cheeks, where roses grow;
After those showers of rain, so sweet may smell,
Perfuming all the air that near them dwell. 70
But when the sun of joy and mirth doth rise,
Darting forth pleasing beams from loving eyes,
Then may the buds of modesty unfold,
With full blown confidence the sun behold.
But grief as frost them nips, and withering die, 75
In their own pods7 entombèd lie.
Thus virgin cherry trees, where blossoms blow,
So red ripe cherries on their lips may grow.
Or women plum trees at each fingers end,
May ripe plums hang, and make their joints to bend. 80
Men sycamores, which on their breast may write
Their amorous verses, which their thoughts indite.8
Men’s stretchèd arms may be like spreading vines,
Where grapes may grow, so drink of their own wine.
To plant large orchards need no pains nor care, 85
For everyone their sweet fresh fruit may bear.
Then silver grass may in the meadows grow,
Which nothing but a scythe of fire can mow.
The wind, which from the north a journey takes,
May strike those silver strings, and music make. 90
Thus may another world, though matter still the same,
By changing shapes, change humours,9 properties, and name.10
Thus Colossus, a statue wondrous great,11
When it did fall, might straight get on his feet.
Where ships, which through his legs did swim, he might 95
Have blown12 their sails, or else have drowned them quite.
The Golden Calf that Israel joyed to see13
Might run away from their idolatry.
The Basan bull of brass might be, when roar,
His metalled throat might make his voice sound more.14 100
The hill which Muhammad did call might come
At the first word, or else away might run.15
Thus Pompey’s statue might rejoice to see
When killed was Caesar, his great enemy.16
The wooden horse that did great Troy betray 105
Have told what’s in him, and then run away.17
Achilles’s arms against Ulysses plead,
And not let wit against true valor speed.18
If everything hath sense and reason, then