A bunch of keys did hang by Nature’s side,
Which she, to open her five boxes, tried.
The first was wit; that 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,
Opening the stomach to put meat into.
The key of scent unlocked the brain, though hard,
For of a stink the nose is much afeard. 10
The key of pain did open touch, but slow,
For Nature’s loath any disease to show.
In Nature’s cabinet, the brain, you’ll find
Many a toy which doth delight the mind:
Several colored ribbons of fancies new
To tie in hats or hair of lovers true;
Imagination’s masks, where nothing’s shown 5
But th’eyes of knowledge, all the rest unknown;
Fans of opinion, which do waft the wind
According as the heat is in the mind;
Gloves of remembrance to draw off and on—
Thoughts in the brain sometimes are there, then gone. 10
Veils of forgetfulness the thoughts do hide,
Which when turned up, then is their face espied.
Pendants of understanding heavy there
Are found, but do not hang in every ear.
Patches of ignorance to stick upon 15
The face of fools—this cabinet is shown.
The sun crowns Nature’s head with beams so fair;
The stars do hang as jewels in her hair.
Her garment’s made of pure bright watchet sky,
Which round her waist the zodiac doth tie.
The polar circles are bracelets 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.
Her stockings are of grass that’s fresh and green;
The rainbow is like colored ribbons seen. 10
The powder for her hair is milk-white snow,
And when she comes, her locks the winds do blow.
Light, a thin veil, doth hang upon her face,
Through which her creatures see in every place.
Death is the cook of Nature, and we find
Creatures dressed several ways to please her mind.
Some Death doth roast with fevers burning hot,
And some he boils with dropsies in a pot;
Some are consumed for jelly by degrees, 5
And some with ulcers, gravy out to squeeze;
Some, as with herbs, he stuffs with gouts and pains;
Others for tender meat he hangs in chains;
Some in the sea he pickles up to keep;
Others he, as soused brawn, in wine doth steep; 10
Some flesh and bones he with the pox chops small,
And doth a french fricassee make withall;
Some on gridir’ns of calentures are broiled,
And some are trodden on, and so quite spoiled.
But some are baked, when smothered they do die; 15
Some meat he doth by hectic fevers fry;
In sweat sometimes he stews with savory smell:
A hodge-podge of diseases tasteth well.
Brains dressed with apoplexy to Nature’s wish,
Or swim with sauce of megrims in a dish. 20
And tongues he dries with smoke from stomachs ill,
Which as the second course he sends up still.
Throats he doth cut, blood puddings for to make,
And puts them in the guts, which colics rack.
Some hunted are by him for deer, that’s red, 25
And some as stall-fed oxen knocked o’th’head;
Some, singed and scald for bacon, seem most rare
When with salt rheum and phlegm they powdered are.
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, desire.
By thinking much, the brain too hot will grow 5
And burn them up; if cold, fancies are dough.
Life scums the cream of beauty with time’s spoon,
And draws the claret wine of blushes soon.
Then boils it in a skillet clean of youth,
And thicks it well with crumbled bread of truth,
And sets it on the fire of life, which does 5
Burn clearer much when health her bellows blows.
Then takes the eggs of fair and bashful eyes,
And puts them in a countenance that’s wise,
And cuts a lemon in of sharpest wit;
Discretion, as a knife, is used for it. 10
A handful of chaste thoughts double refined,
Six spoonfuls of a nobl’and 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, 15
And with this meat doth Nature please herself.
Life takes a young and tender lover’s heart
That hunted was, and struck by Cupid’s dart,
Then sets it on 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 passions throws into the pot,
Then takes it off 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 casts 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 it 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 it eat.
A forehead which is high, broad, smooth, and sleek;
A large great eye that’s black and very quick;
A brow that’s arched, or like a bow that’s 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 silk
In softness do resembl’in whiteness milk; 10
A body plump, white, of an even growth,
That’s active, lively, quick, and void of sloth;
A heart that’s firm and sound; a liver good;
A speech that’s plain and eas’ly understood;
A hand that’s fat, and smooth, and very white, 15
The 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 mixed with pleasure and delight,
And strewed upon with eyes most quick of sight,
Are put into a dish of admiration,
And so served up with praises of a nation.
A wanton eye that seeks but 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 dispraises good;
A frowning brow, with rage and anger bent;
A good proceeding from an ill intent;
Large promises, which for performance stayed,
And proffered gifts, which no acceptance had; 10
Affected words that signifiedno thing,
And feignèd laughter which no mirth doth bring;
Thoughts idle, foolish, unuseful, and vain,
Which are created in a lover’s brain;
Antic postures, where no coherence is; 15
Well-meaning mind, which always doth amiss;
A voice that’s hoarse, where notes cannot agree;
And squinting eyes, that no true shape can see;
Wrinkles, which time hath set in every face;
Vainglory brave that falls in full disgrace; 20
A self-conceited pride without a cause;
A painful desperate act without applause;
Verses no sense nor fancy have, but rhyme;
Ambitious falls, when highest hopes do climb.
All these Life i’th’pot of dislike boils fast, 25
And stirs them with the ladle of distaste.
She makes therein the fat of gluttons flow,
And roots of several vices throws into,
With several herbs —as agèd thyme that’s dry,
Heart-burning parsley, funeral rosemary— 30
Then pours it out into repentant dishes,
And sends it up by shadows of vain wishes.
Life takes a heart, and passions puts therein,
And covers it with a dissembling skin.
Takes anger, which like pepper keen doth bite,
And vinegar that’s sharp and made of spite.
Ginger of revenge, grated, in is flung, 5
To which she adds a lying cloven tongue.
A lazy flake of mace, which lies down flat;
Some salt of slander she doth put to that.
Then serves it up with sauce of jealousy,
In dishes of most careful industry. 10