Of Fairies in the Brain


Who knows, but that in every2 brain may dwell
Those creatures we call3 fairies—who can tell?
And by their several actions they may make4
Those forms and figures we for fancy take.5
And when we sleep, those visions dreams we call                5
May by their industry6 be raisèd all,
And all the objects which through senses get,
Within the brain they may in order set,
And some pack up, as merchants do each thing,7
Which they8 sometimes may to the mem’ry9 bring.            10
And thus,10 besides our own imaginations,
May fairies11 in our brain beget inventions.
If so, then th’eye’s the sea where, by the gale12
Of passions, on salt tears their ship doth sail,13
And when14 a tear doth break, as it doth fall                         15
Or wiped away, they may a shipwreck call.
When15 from the stomach vapors do arise,
Fly up into16 the head (as to the skies),
And, as great storms,17 their houses down may blow,
Which18 by their fall the head may dizzy grow.                    20
And when those houses they build up again,
With knocking they may19 put the head to pain.
When they dig deep, perchance a20 tooth may ache,
And from a tooth a quarry-bone may take,
Which they, like21 stone, may build their house withal;      25
If much took out, the tooth may rotten fall.
Those that dwell near the ears are very cool,
For they are both the South, and Northern Pole.
The eyes are sun and moon, which give them light:
When open, day; when shut, it is dark night.                         30

The City of These Fairies Is the Brain.


The city is the brain, encompassed in2
Double walls (dura mater, pia mater thin);3
It’s trenchèd round about with a thick skull,4
And faced without with wondrous art and skill.5
The forehead is the fort, which is built6 high,                        5
And for the sentinels is either7 eye.
And that same8 place where memory lies9 in,
Is great King Oberon his magazine.10
The marketplace, the mouth; when full, begun
Is market day; when empty, market’s done.                          10
The city conduit, where the water flows,
Is with11 two spouts, the nostrils of the nose,
And when these watery spouts are not stopped close,12
Then we do say it is a cold or pose.13
The gates are14 the two ears; when deaf they are,               15
Then those two city gates the fairies15 bar.
This city’s governed as most cities be,
By aldermen, and so by mayoralty.
And Ob’ron16 King dwells never anywhere
But in a royal head, whose court is there,                              20
Which is the kernel of the brain; if seen,
We there might view him and his beauteous queen.
Sure that’s their court, and there they sit in state,
And noble lords and ladies on them wait.

The Fairies in the Brain May Be the Causes of Many Thoughts.

When we have pious thoughts and think of heaven,
Yet go about, not ask to be forgiven,
Perchance they’re1 preaching, or a chapter saying,
Or on their knees they are devoutly2 praying.
When we are sad, and know no reason why,                            5
Perchance it is because some there do die,
And some place may i’th’head be3 hung with black,
Which makes us dull, yet know not what we lack.
Our fancies which in verse or prose we put
May pictures be, which they do draw or4 cut,                         10
And when these fancies fine and thin do show,5
They may be graven in seal, for ought we know.6
When we have cross7 opinions in the mind,
Then we may them in schools disputing8 find.
When we of childish toys do think, a fair9                               15
May be i’th’brain, where crowds of fairies are,10
And in each stall11 may all such knacks be sold,
As rattles, bells, or bracelets made12 of gold;
Pins, whistles, and the like may13 be bought there,
And thus within the head may be a fair.                                  20
And when14 our brain with amorous thoughts is stayed,15
Perhaps there is a bride and bridegroom made,16
And when our thoughts are merry, humours17 gay,
There may be18 dancing on their wedding day.

Of the Animal Spirits

Those spirits which we animal do call
May men and women be, and creatures small,
And may the body into kingdoms wide1
As muscles, nerves, veins, arteries—divide.2
The head and heart, East and West Indies be,                         5
Which through the veins may traffic, as the sea;
In fevers may by shipwreck many die,3
For when the blood is hot, and vapors high4
Do rise, as waves they toss, and when they5 hit
Against rocks of obstructions, life doth6 split.                       10
I’th’head, th’East Indies,7 spicy fancy grows;8
From oranges and lemons sharp satyr flows;9
I’th’heart,10 the West, where heat the blood refines,
The blood’s like gold, the heart like silver11 mines.
Those from the head, in ships their spice they fetch,12       15
And from the heart, the gold and silver rich.13

Peace betwixt Animal Spirits


When they keep2 peace, and all do well agree,
Then is commerce in every kingdom free,
And through the nerves they travel without fear;
There are no thieves to rob them of their ware.
Those3 wares are several touches which they bring              5
Unto the senses, which4 buy everything.
But to the muscles they do much5 recourse,
For in those kingdoms trading hath great force,
Which kingdoms always6 join by two and two,
That they with ease may7 pass and repass through.            10

Similizing the Body to Many Countries


The nerves are France, and Italy, and Spain;
The liver, Brit’n;2 the narrow seas, the veins;3
The spleen is Ethiopia, wherein4
Is bred a peopl’of5 black and tawny skin;
The stomach, Egypt; the chylus, Nile, that flows6                  5
Quite through the body, by which it fruitful grows.7
The heart and head, East and West Indies are;8
The South and Northern Pole is either ear.9
The lungs are rocks and caverns, whence rise winds,
Where10 life which passes through great danger finds.     10

A Compliment Sent to the Fairy Queen


Sir Charles2into3 my chamber coming in
When I was writing of my4 Fairy Queen,
“I pray,” said he, “when Queen Mab you do see,
Present my service to her Majesty,
And tell her I have heard Fame’s loud report,                     5
Both of her beauty and her stately court.”
When I Queen Mab within my fancy viewed,
My thoughts bowed low, fearing I should be rude,
Kissing her garment thin, which fancy made,
Kneeling upon a thought, like one that prayed.                10
And then in5 whispers soft I did present
His humble service, which in mirth was sent.
Thus by imagination I have been
In Fairy Court, and seen the Fairy Queen,
For why imagination runs about                                          15
In every place, yet6 none can trace it out.