The Several Keys of Nature, which Unlock the Several Boxes of her Cabinet


A bunch of keys did hang2 by Nature’s side,
Which she, to open her five3 boxes,4 tried.
The first was wit; that5 key unlocked the ear,
Opened the brain to see what things were there.
The next was beauty’s key, unlocked the eyes,                     5
Opened the heart to see what therein lies.
The third was appetite, which quick did go,6
Opening the stomach to put meat into.7
The key of scent unlocked8 the brain, though hard,
For of a stink the nose is much afeard.                                   10
The key of pain did open9 touch, but slow,
For Nature’s loath any disease to show.10

Nature’s Cabinet

In Nature’s cabinet, the brain, you’ll find
Many a toy1 which doth delight the mind:
Several colored ribbons of fancies2 new
To tie in hats or hair of lovers true;
Imagination’s masks, where nothing’s shown3                        5
But th’eyes of knowledge, all the rest unknown;4
Fans of opinion, which do waft5 the wind
According as the heat is in the mind;
Gloves of remembrance to6 draw off and on—
Thoughts in the brain sometimes are7 there, then gone.       10
Veils of forgetfulness the thoughts do hide,
Which when8 turned up, then is their face espied.
Pendants of understanding heavy there9
Are found, but do not hang10 in every ear.
Patches11 of ignorance to stick upon12                                       15
The face of fools—this cabinet is shown.

Nature’s Dress

The sun crowns Nature’s head with beams so fair;1
The stars do hang as jewels in her hair.2
Her garment’s made of pure bright watchet sky,
Which round her waist the zodiac doth3 tie.
The polar circles are bracelets4 for each wrist;                5
The planets round about her neck do twist.
The gold and silver mines, shoes for her feet,
And for her garters are soft flowers sweet.5
Her stockings are of grass that’s fresh and green;
The rainbow is like colored ribbons seen.6                       10
The powder for her hair is milk-white snow,
And when she comes,7 her locks the winds do blow.
Light, a thin veil, doth hang upon her face,
Through which her creatures see in every place.

Nature’s Cook

Death is the cook of Nature, and we find
Creatures1 dressed several ways to please her mind.
Some Death doth roast2 with fevers burning hot,
And some he3 boils with dropsies in a pot;
Some are consumed for jelly4 by degrees,                                 5
And some with ulcers, gravy out to squeeze;
Some, as with herbs, he5 stuffs with gouts and pains;
Others for tender meat he hangs6 in chains;
Some in the sea he pickles up to keep;
Others he, as soused brawn,7 in wine doth8 steep;                 10
Some flesh and bones he with the pox chops9 small,
And doth a french fricassee make10 withall;
Some on gridir’ns of calentures are11 broiled,
And some are12 trodden on,13 and so quite spoiled.
But some14 are baked, when smothered they do die;             15
Some meat he doth by hectic fevers15 fry;
In sweat sometimes he16 stews with savory smell:
A hodge-podge of diseases tasteth17 well.
Brains dressed with apoplexy to Nature’s wish,18
Or swim with sauce of megrims in a dish.19                             20
And tongues he20 dries with smoke from stomachs ill,
Which as the second course he21 sends up still.
Throats he doth cut, blood puddings for22 to make,
And puts them in the guts, which colics rack.
Some hunted are by him23 for deer, that’s red,24                     25
And some as stall-fed oxen knocked o’th’head;25
Some, singed and scald for bacon, seem most rare26
When with salt rheum and phlegm they powdered are.27

Nature’s Oven

The brain is like an oven, hot and dry,
Which bakes all sorts of fancies, low and high.
The thoughts are wood, which motion sets on fire;
The tongue a peel; the hand which draws,1 desire.
By2 thinking much, the brain too hot will grow               5
And burn them3 up; if cold, fancies4 are dough.

A Posset for Nature’s Breakfast

Life scums the cream of beauty with time’s spoon,
And draws the claret wine of blushes soon.
Then1 boils it in a skillet clean of youth,
And2 thicks it well with crumbled bread of truth,
And sets it on3 the fire of life, which does4                           5
Burn clearer much when health her bellows5 blows.
Then takes the eggs of fair and bashful eyes,
And puts them in a countenance that’s wise,
And cuts a lemon in of6 sharpest wit;
Discretion, as a knife, is used for it.7                                      10
A handful of chaste thoughts double refined,
Six spoonfuls of a nobl’and8 gentle mind,
A grain of mirth, to give’t a little taste,
Then takes it off, for fear the substance waste,
And puts it in a basin of good health,9                                   15
And with10 this meat doth Nature please herself.

An Olio Dressed for Nature’s Dinner


Life takes a young and tender lover’s heart
That hunted was, and struck2 by Cupid’s dart,
Then sets it on3 the fire of love, and blows
That fire with sighs, by which the flame high grows,
And boils it with the water of fresh tears,                            5
Flings in a bunch of hope, desires, and fears.
More sprigs of passions4 throws into the pot,
Then takes it off5 when it is seething hot,
And puts it in a clean dish of delight,
That scoured was from envy and from spite.                      10
Then doth she press and squeeze in juice of youth,
And casts6 therein some sugar of sweet truth.
Sharp melancholy gives a quick’ning taste,
And temperance doth cause it long to last.
Then she with smiles doth garnish it7 and dress,               15
And serves it up, a fair and beauteous mess.
But Nature’s apt to surfeit of this meat,
Which makes that she doth seldom of it8 eat.

A Bisk for Nature’s Table

A forehead which is high,1 broad, smooth, and sleek;2
A large great eye that’s black3 and very quick;
A brow that’s arched, or like a bow that’s4 bent;
A rosy cheek, and in the midst a dent;
Two cherry lips, whereon the dew lies wet;                         5
A nose between the eyes that’s even set;
A chin that’s neither short nor very long;
A sharp, and quick, and ready pleasing tongue;
A breath of musk and amber; breasts which silk5
In softness do resembl’in whiteness milk;6                          10
A body plump, white, of an even growth,
That’s active, lively, quick, and7 void of sloth;
A heart that’s firm and sound;8 a liver good;
A speech that’s plain and eas’ly9 understood;
A hand that’s fat, and smooth,10 and very white,                15
The11 inside moist, and red like rubies bright;
A brawny arm; a wrist that’s round and small;
And fingers long, and joints not big withal;
A stomach strong and easy to digest;
A swan-like neck; and an out-bearing chest.                        20
All these when mixed12 with pleasure and delight,
And strewed upon with eyes most13 quick of sight,
Are put into14 a dish of admiration,
And so served15 up with praises of a nation.

A Hodge-Podge for Nature’s Table

A wanton eye that seeks but1 to allure;
Dissembling countenance that looks demure;
A griping hand that holds what’s none of his;
A jealous mind, which thinks all is amiss;
A purple face, where mattery pimples stood;                     5
A slandering tongue that still dispraises2 good;
A frowning brow, with rage and anger bent;
A good proceeding3 from an ill intent;
Large promises, which for performance stayed,4
And proffered gifts, which no acceptance had;5                10
Affected words that signified6no thing,
And feignèd laughter which no mirth doth bring;7
Thoughts idle, foolish, unuseful, and8 vain,
Which are created in9 a lover’s brain;
Antic postures, where no coherence10 is;                            15
Well-meaning mind,11 which12 always doth13 amiss;
A voice that’s hoarse, where notes cannot agree;
And squinting14 eyes, that no true shape can see;
Wrinkles, which15 time hath set in every face;
Vainglory brave that falls16 in full disgrace;                       20
A self-conceited pride without a cause;
A painful desperate act17 without applause;
Verses no sense nor fancy have, but18 rhyme;
Ambitious19 falls, when20 highest hopes do climb.
All these Life i’th’pot of dislike boils21 fast,                         25
And stirs them with the22 ladle of distaste.
She makes therein the fat of gluttons23 flow,
And roots of several vices throws into,24
With25 several herbs —as agèd thyme26 that’s dry,
Heart-burning parsley, funeral27 rosemary—                    30
Then pours28 it out into repentant dishes,
And sends it up by shadows of vain wishes.

A Heart Dressed

Life takes a heart, and passions puts therein,
And covers it with a dissembling skin.
Takes anger, which like pepper keen doth1 bite,
And vinegar that’s sharp and made of spite.
Ginger of revenge, grated, in is2 flung,                         5
To which she adds a lying cloven tongue.
A lazy flake of mace, which3 lies down flat;
Some salt of slander she doth put4 to that.
Then serves it up with sauce of jealousy,
In dishes of most careful5 industry.                              10