A World in an Earring

An earring round may well a zodiac1 be,
Wherein a sun goes round, which we don’t2 see;
And planets seven about that sun may move,
And he stand still, as learnèd men3 would prove;
And fixèd stars like twinkling diamonds, placed                   5
About this earring, which a world is vast.
That same which doth the earring hold, the hole,
Is that we call the North and Southern Pole;4
There nipping frosts may be, and winters5 cold,
Yet never on the lady’s ear take hold.                                      10
And lightning,6 thunder, and great winds may blow
Within this earring, yet the ear not know.
Fish there may swim in seas, which ebb and flow,7
And islands be, wherein do spices grow;8
There crystal rocks hang dangling at each ear,                     15
And golden mines as jewels may they wear.
There earthquakes9 be, which mountains vast down fling,
And yet ne’er stir the lady’s ear, nor ring.
There meadows10 be, and pastures fresh and green,
And cattle feed, and yet be never seen,                                   20
And gardens fresh,11 and birds which sweetly sing,
Although we hear them not in an earring.
There12 night and day, and heat and cold, and so13
May14 life and death, and young and old still grow.15
Thus16 youth may spring, and several ages die;                    25
Great plagues may be, and no infections17 nigh.
There cities18 be, and stately houses19 built,
Their20 inside gay, and finely may be gilt.
There churches be,21 wherein priests teach and sing,22
And steeples23 too, yet hear the bells not ring.                      30
From thence may pious tears to Heaven run,24
And yet the ear not know which way they’re gone.
There markets be,25 where things are26 bought and sold,
Though th’ear knows not the price their27 markets hold.
There governors do28 rule, and kings do29 reign,                  35
And battles fought, where many may be30 slain.
And all within the compass of this ring,
Whence they no31 tidings to the wearer bring.
Within the32 ring, wise counsellors may sit,
And yet the ear not one wise word may get.                           40
There may be dancing all night at a ball,
And yet the ear be not disturbed at all.
There rivals33 duels fight, where some are slain;
There34 lovers mourn, yet hear them not complain.
And Death may dig a lover’s grave: thus were                        45
A lover dead in a fair lady’s ear.
But when the ring is broke, the world is done;
Then lovers they into Elysium run.35

  1. earring round may well a zodiac] Ear-ring may well a Zodiack 1664; Ear-ring well a Zodiack call’d may 1668
  2. goes round, which we don’t] goeth round, and we not 1653; goes round, which we not 1664
  3. learnèd men] some wise men 1653
  4. we call the North and Southern Pole;] which we do call the Pole. 1653
  5. winters] Winter 1653
  6. lightning,] Lightnings, 1653, 1668
  7. Fish there may swim in seas, which ebb and flow,] There Seas may ebb, and flow, where Fishes swim, 1653
  8. wherein do spices grow;] where Spices grow therein. 1653
  9. There earthquakes] Earth-quakes may 1664, 1668
  10. There meadows] Meddows may 1664; Meadows may 1668
  11. fresh,] fine, 1664, 1668
  12. There] There may be 1664, 1668
  13. cold, and so] Cold, 1664; Cold; 1668
  14. May] As also 1664; As also, 1668
  15. old still grow.] Old; 1664; Old. 1668
  16. Thus] And 1664, 1668
  17. infections] Infection 1664, 1668
  18. There cities] Great Cities there may 1664, 1668
  19. stately houses] Houses 1664, 1668
  20. Their] Whose 1664, 1668
  21. There churches be] Churches may they’ve, 1664, 1668
  22. wherein priests teach and sing,] and Priests to teach therein, 1653
  23. steeples] Steeple 1653
  24. run,] up run, 1664; up run; 1668
  25. There markets be,] Markets may be, 1664, 1668
  26. where things are] and things both 1653
  27. Though th’ear not knows the price their] Know not the price, nor how the 1653
  28. do] may 1664, 1668
  29. do] may 1664,1668
  30. fought, where many may be] may be fought, and many 1664, 1668
  31. Whence they no] And yet not 1653
  32. the] this 1664, 1668
  33. There rivals] Rivals may 1664, 1668
  34. There] And 1664, 1668
  35. they into Elysium run.] are into Elysium gone. 1664, 1668