Of Sense and Reason Exercised in their Different Shapes (from Philosophical Fancies)

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

Untitled [Great God, from Thee all infinites do flow] (from Phil. Fancies and Phil. Phys. Op.)

Great God, from Thee all infinites do flow,1
And by Thy power from thence effects do grow.
Thou order’st2 all degrees of matter; just
As ’tis Thy will and pleasure, move it must.3
And by Thy knowledge order’st4all for th’best,5             5
And6 in Thy knowledge doth Thy wisdom rest,
And wisdom cannot order things amiss,
For where disorder, there7 no wisdom is.
Besides, great God, Thy will is just—for why?8
Thy will still on Thy wisdom doth rely.9                          10
O pardon Lord for what I now here speak10
Upon a guess; my knowledge is but weak.11
But Thou hast made such creatures as mankind,
And gav’st12 them something which we call a mind;
Always in motion, it ne’er13 quiet lies                              15
Until the figure of his body dies.14
His sev’ral15 thoughts, which sev’ral16 motions are,
Do raise up love, hope, joys, and doubts17 and fear.
As love doth raise up hope, so fear doth doubt,
Which makes him seek to find the great God out.         20
Self-love doth make him seek to find if he
Came from, or shall last to, eternity.
But motion, being slow, makes knowledge weak,
And then his thoughts ’gainst ignorance do18 beat,
As fluid waters ’gainst hard rocks do flow,                     25
Break their soft streams, and so they backward go:
Just so do thoughts, and then they backward slide
Unto the place where first they did abide,
And there in gentle murmurs do complain
That all their care and labor is in vain.19                        30
But since none knows the great Creator, must
Man seek no more, but in his greatness20 trust.


The Description of the Violence of Love (from Nature’s Picture(s))

O, said a man,1 such love (as this was) sure
Doth never in a married pair endure.
But lovers crossed use not to end so well,
Which for to show, a tale I mean to tell.

There was a lady virtuous, young, and fair,
Unto her father only child and heir,
In her behaviour modest, sweet, and civil,
So innocent, knew only good from evil,
Yet in her carriage2 had a majestic grace,                               5
And affable and pleasant was her face.
Another gentleman (whose house did stand3
Hard by her father’s, and was rich in land),4
He5 had a son such6 beauty did adorn
As some might think of Venus7 he was born,                         10
His spirit noble, generous, and great,
By nature valiant, disposition8 sweet,
His wit ingenious, and his breeding such:
Arts, sciences, of pedantry no touch.9
This noble gentleman in love did fall                                      15
With this fair lady, who was pleased withal;
He courted her, his service did address:10
His love by words and letters did express.
Though she seemed coy, his love she did not slight,
But civil answers did in letters write.                                      20
At last so well acquainted they did grow,
As11 but one heart each other’s thoughts did know.
Meantime their parents did their loves descry,12
And sought all ways to break that unity,
Forbad13 each others company frequent,                               25
Did all they could love’s meetings to prevent.
But love regards not parents, nor their threats,
For love, the more ’tis barred, more strength begets.
Thus being crossed, by stealth they both did meet,
With14 privacy did make their love more sweet;                  30
Although their fears did oft affright their mind
Lest that their parents should their walks out find.15
Then16 in the kingdom did rebellion spring;
Most of the commons fought against their king,17
And all the gentry that then loyal were                                   35
Did to the standard of the king repair.
Amongst the rest this noble youth was one;
Love bade18 him stay, but honor spurred him on.
When he declared his mind, her heart it rent;19
Rivers of tears out of her eyes grief sent.                                40
And20 every tear like bullets pierced his breast,
Scattered his thoughts, and did his mind molest.
Silent long time they stood; at last spake he:
Why doth my love with tears so torture me?

Why do you blame my eyes, said she, to weep,                     45
Since they perceive you faith nor promise keep?
For did you love but half so true as I,
Rather than part, you’d21 choose to stay and die,
But you excuses make, and take delight,
Like cruel thieves, to rob and spoil by night.                         50
Now you have stole my heart, away you run,
And leave a silly22 virgin quite undone.

If I stay from the wars, what will men say?
They’ll say I make excuse to be away.
By this reproach, a coward I am thought,                               55
And my disgrace will make you seem in fault
To set your love upon a man so base,
Bring infamy to us and to our race.
To sacrifice my life for your content,
I would not spare; but (dear) in this consent,                        60
’Tis for your sake honor I strive to win,
That I some merit to your worth may bring.

If you will go, let me not stay behind,
But take such fortune with you as I find.
I’ll be your page, attend you in the field;23                             65
When you are weary I will hold your shield.

Dear love, that must not be, for women are
Of tender bodies, and minds full of fear.
Besides, my mind so full of care will be,
For fear a bullet should once light on thee,                            70
That I shall never fight, but strengthless grow,
Through feeble limbs be subject to my foe.
When thou art safe, my spirits high shall raise,
Striving to get a victory of praise.

With sad laments, these lovers they did part;24                    75
Absence as arrows sharp doth wound each heart.
She spends her time, to Heaven high25 doth pray
That gods would bless and safe conduct his way.

The whil’st he fights and Fortune’s favor had,
Fame brings his26 honor to his mistress sad.27                      80
All Cavaliers28 that in the army were,
There was not one could with this youth compare.
By love his spirits all were set on fire;
Love gave him courage, made his foes retire.

But O ambitious lovers, how they run                                     85
Without all29 guidance, like Apollo’s son,30
Run31 out of moderations line—so he
Into32 the thickest of the army flee
Singly alone, amongst the squadrons deep
Fighting, sent many one with Death to sleep.                          90
But numbers, with united strength, at last
This noble gallant man from horse did cast.
His body all so thick of wounds was33 set,
Safety, it seems, in fight he34 did forget—
But not his love,35 who in his mind still lies;                           95
He36 wished her there37 to close his dying eyes.38
Soul, said he, if thou wand’rest in the air,
Thy service to my mistress be thy care:
Attend her close, with her soul friendship make,
Then she perchance no other love may take.                         100
But if thou sink down to the shades below,
And (being a lover)39 to Elysium go,40
Perchance my mistress’s soul you there may meet,
So walk and talk in love’s discourses sweet.
But if thou art like to a light put out,                                        105
Thy motion’s ceased, then all’s forgot no doubt.
With that, a sigh which from his heart did rise
Did mount his soul up to the airy skies.

The whilst his mistress, being sad with care,
Knees worn, spirits spent,41 imploring gods with prayer,   110
A drowsy sleep did all her senses close,
But in her dreams Hermes42 her lover shows
With all his wounds, which made her loud to cry:
Help, help, you gods, said she, that dwell on high!
These fearful dreams her senses all did wake;                      115
In a cold sweat with fear each limb did shake.
Then came a messenger as pale as death,
With panting sides, swoll’n eyes, and shortened breath,
And by his looks his sadder tale did tell,
Which when she saw, straight in a swoon she fell.               120
At last her stifled spirits had recourse
Unto their usual place,43 but of less force.
Then lifting up her eyes, her tongue gave way,
And thus unto the gods did mourning say:

Why do we pray44 and offer to high heaven,                         125
Since what we ask is seldom to us given?45
If their decrees are fixed, what need we pray?
Nothing can alter fates, nor cross their way.
If they leave all to chance, who can apply?
For every chance is then a deity.                                              130
But if a power they keep to work at will,
It shows them cruel to torment us still.
When we are made, in pain we always live,
Sick bodies, or grieved46 minds to us they give;
With motions which run cross, composed we are,               135
Which makes our reason and our sense to jar;
When they are weary to torment us, must
We then return, and so dissolve to dust.
But if I have my fate in my own power,
I will not breathe, nor live another hour;                               140
Then with the gods I shall not be at strife,
If my decree can take away my life.
Then on her feeble47 legs she straight did stand,
And took a pistol charged48 in either hand.
Here, dear, said she, I give my heart to thee,                         145
And by my death divulged49 our loves shall be.
Then constant lovers mourners be; when dead
They’ll strew our graves—which is our marriage bed—50
Upon our hearse a weeping poplar51 set,
Whose moist’ning drops52 our death’s-dried53 cheeks may wet; 150
Two cypress garlands at our head shall stand,54
That were made up by some fair virgin’s hand,
And on our cold pale corpse such flowers strew,55
As56 hang their heads for grief, and57 downward grow;
Then shall they lay us deep in58 quiet grave,                         155
Wherein our bones long rest and peace may have.
Let not our friends a marble tomb erect59
Upon our graves, but myrtle trees there set;60
Those may in time a shady grove become,
Fit for sad lovers’ walks, whose thoughts are dumb,           160
For melancholy love seeks place obscure,
No noise nor company can it endure,61
And when to ground they cast a dull, sad eye,62
Perhaps they’ll think on us who therein lie.63
Thus though we’re dead, our memory remains,64                165
And, like a ghost,65 may walk in moving brains,66
And in each head Love’s67 altars for us build
To sacrifice some sighs or tears distilled.
Then to her heart the pistol set, and68 shot
A bullet in, and so69 her grief forgot.                                       170
Fame with her trumpet blew in every ear;
The sound of this great act spread everywhere.
Lovers from all parts came by the report
Unto her urn, as pilgrims did resort,
There offered praises of her constancy,                                  175
And vowed70 the like unto Love’s deity.

A woman said that tale expressed love well,
And showed71 that constancy in death did dwell;
Friendship, they say, a thing is so sublime72,
That Jove himself doth with himself so join,73                       180
Dividing himself into equal parts three,
Yet one pure mind, and perfect power agree:74
So loving friendships, having but one will,75
Their bodies two,76 one soul doth govern still,
And though they be always disjoinèd much,77                      185
Yet all their78 senses equally do touch,
For what doth strike the eye, or other part,79
Begets in all like pleasure, or like smart.80
So though in substance form divided be,
Yet soul and senses joined in one agree.81                              190

A man that to the lady placed was nigh
Said he would tell another tragedy.

The Surprisal of Death (from Nature’s Picture(s))

The next,1 a virgin’s turn a2 tale to tell,
For youth and modesty did fit it well.

A company of virgins young did meet;
Their pastime was to gather flowers sweet.
They3 white straw hats upon their heads did wear,
And falling feathers, which waved with the air,
Fanning their faces like a Zephyrus4 wind,                      5
Shadowing the sun, that strove their eyes to blind.
And in their hands they each a basket held,
Which baskets they with fruits or flowers filled.
But one amongst the rest such beauty had,
That Venus for to change might well be glad5:                10
Her shape exact; her skin was smooth and fair;
Her teeth white, even set; a long curled hair;
Her nature modest; her behavior so,
As when she moved the Graces seemed to go.
Her wit was quick, and pleasing to the ear,                     15
That all who heard her speak straight6 lovers were—
But yet her words such chaste love did create
That all impurity they did abate.
In7 every heart or head, where wild thoughts live,
She did convert, and wise instructions give,                    20
For her discourse such heavenly seeds did sow
That where ’twas8 strewed, there virtues up did grow.
These virgins all were in a garden set,
And each did strive the finest flowers to get.
But this fair lady on a bank did lie                                     25
Of most choice flowers, which did court her eye,
And every one did bend their heads full low,
Bowing their stalks, which from the roots did9 grow.
And when her hands did touch their tender leaves,
Each10 seemed to kiss, and to her fingers cleaves.11      30
But she, as if in nature ’twere a crime,
Was loath to crop their stalks in their full prime,
But with her face close to those flowers lay,
That through her nostrils those sweets might find way—12
Not for to rob them, for her head was full                       35
Of flow’ry fancies, which her wit did pull
And posies made, the world for to present:
More lasting were, and of13 a sweeter scent.
But as she lay upon this pleasant14 bank,
For which those flowers did great Nature thank,           40
Death envious grew they15 such delight did take,
And with his dart a deadly wound did make.
A sudden cold did seize her every limb,
With which her pulse beat slow and eyes grew dim.
Some that sat by observed her pale to be,                        45
But thought it some false light, yet16 went to see.
And when they came, she turned her eyes aside,
Spread forth her arms, then stretched, and sighed, and died.
The frighted virgins ran with panting breath17
To tell the sadder story of her death,                                 50
The whilst the flowers to her rescue bend,18
And all their med’cinable virtues send.
But all in vain: their power’s too weak; each head
Then drooped, seeing19 they could not help the dead.
Their fresher colors did20 no longer stay,                         55
But faded straight and withered all away.
For tears they dropped their leaves, and thought it meet
To strew her with them as her21 winding sheet.
The airy22 choristers hovered above,
And sang23 her last sad funeral song of love.24                60
The Earth grew proud, now having so much honor,
That odoriferous25 corpse lying26 upon her.
When that pure virgin’s stuff dissolved in dew,27
Was the first cause new births of flowers grew,
And added sweets to those it did renew.                           65
The grosser parts the curious soon did take;
Of it transparent porcelain28 they did make.
Her purer dust they keep for to refine
Best poets verse and gild their29 every line.30
And all poetic flames she did inspire,                                70
So her name lives in that eternal fire.

Of the Working of Several Motions of Nature (from Phil. Fancies and Phil. Phys. Op.)

Motions do work according as they find1
Matter that’s fit and proper for each kind.
Sensitive spirits2 work not all one way,
But as the matter is, they cut, carve, lay,
Joining together matter, solid light,3                             5
And build and form some figures straight upright,
Or make them bending, and so jutting out,
And some are large, and strong, and big about,
And some are thick, and hard, and close unite;4
Others are flat, and low, and loose, and light.             10
But when they meet with matter fine and thin,
Then they do weave, as spiders when they spin.
All that is woven is soft, smooth, thin things,
As flow’ry vegetables and animal skins.5
Observe the grain of every thing, you’ll see                 15
Like interwoven threads lie evenly,6
And like to diaper and damask wrought,7
In several works that for our table’s bought,
Or like to carpets which the Persian made,8
Or satin smooth, which is the Florence trade.9            20
Some matter they engrave, like ring and seal,
Which is the stamp of Nature’s commonweal.10
’Tis Nature’s arms,11 where she doth print
On all her works, as coin that’s in the mint.12
Some several sorts they join together glued,                25
As matter solid with some that’s fluid.
Like to the earthly ball13, where some are mixed
Of several sorts, although not fixed,
For though the figure of the Earth may last
Longer than others, yet at last may waste.                   30
And so the sun, and moon, and planets all,
Like other figures, at the last may fall.
The matter’s still the same, but motion may
Alter it into figures every way,
Yet keep the property, to make such kind                     35
Of figures fit, which motion out can find.
Thus may the figures change, if motion hurls
That matter other14 ways, for other worlds.