Similizing the Head of Man to a Hive of Bees


The head of man just like a hive is made;
The brain is like a comb2 exactly laid,
Where every thought, just like a bee, doth dwell,
Each by itself within a parted cell.
The soul doth govern all, as doth their3 king,                        5
Employs each thought4 upon each several thing.
Just as the5 bees swarm in the hottest weather,
In great round heaps they do hang all together,6
As if for counsel wise they all did meet,7
For when they fly away, new hives they seek.8                     10
So Men, when they have any great design,
Their thoughts do gather and9 in heaps combine.10
But when they are resolved,11 each one takes flight,
And strives12 which first shall on desire13 light.
Thus14 thoughts do meet15 and fly about, till they               15
For their subsistence can find out a way.
But doubting thoughts, like drones, live on the rest
Of hoping16 thoughts, which honey bring to nest.
For like as bees by their sting’s industry17
Get18 honey, which the stingless drones live by,19                20
So men without ambition’s stings do live
Upon th’industrious stock their fathers give.
Or like to such that steals a20 poet’s wit,
And dress it up in their21 own language fit.
But fancy into every garden flies,                                            25
And sucks the flowers sweet of22 lips and eyes.
But if they light23 on those that are not fair,
Like bees on herbs that dry and withered are.24
As25 purest honey on sweet flowers lies,
So finest fancies from young beauties rise.                           30

The Prey of Thoughts

If thoughts be the mind’s creatures, as some say,
Then, like the rest,1 they on each other2 prey,
Ambitious thoughts, like to a hawk, fly high,
In circles of desires mount the3 sky.
And when a covey of young hopes up springs,4                             5
They strive to catch them with their swiftest wings.5
Thus as the hawk on partridges doth6 eat,
So hopeful thoughts are for ambitions7 meat.
Thoughts of self love do swim in self conceit.
Imaginary thoughts of8 praises bait,9                                               10
Which baits10 the thoughts of pride do catch and11 eat,
Thinking it high and most12 delicious meat.
Thoughts of revenge are like to lions strong,
Which whet the appetite with thoughts of wrong.
With subtle thoughts they couch and leap for prey,13                   15
But bloody thoughts carry the flesh away.14
The15 spiteful thoughts, like cats which16 mice do catch,
At each17 corner of imperfections watch.
When spite perceives detracting thoughts to18 speak,
It straight leaps on, no other meat doth seek.                                 20
Suspicious thoughts like hounds do hunt about
To find and eat the hare19 of timorous doubt.
Observing thoughts do smell20 which way to trace,
And hateful thoughts do follow close the chase.
But thoughts of patience like to dormice live,                                 25
Eat little: sleep them21 nourishment doth give.
And when they feed, they thoughts of sorrows crack,22
Which nuts being23 hard, their24 teeth against them knack.25
But26 grateful thoughts on thoughts of thanks do feed,27
And, by their industry, like ants they speed.28                                30
But thoughts of love do live on several meat,
Of hopes, and fears, and jealousies they29 eat,
And30 like as bees do fly on several flowers31
To suck out honey,32 so thoughts do of lovers.33

Similizing Fancy to a Gnat


Some fancies, like small gnats, buzz in the brain,
And2 by the hand of worldly cares are slain.
But they do sting so sore the poet’s head,
His mind is blistered, and his3 thoughts turn4 red.
Nought can take out this5 burning heat and pain            5
But pen and ink, to write on paper plain.
Then6 take the oil of fame, and ’noint7 the mind,
And this will8 be a perfect cure, you’ll find.

Of the Spider


The spider’s housewif’ry no webs doth spin
To make her cloth, but ropes to hang flies in.
Her bowels are the shop where flax is found;
Her body is the wheel that goeth round.
A wall her2 distaff, where she sticks thread on;3                       5
The fingers are the feet that pull it long.4
She’s busy at all times, not idle lies;5
A house she builds with nets to catch the flies.6
Though it be not so strong as brick and stone,
Yet strong enough to bear light bodies on.                                  10
Within this house the female spider lies,
The whilst the male doth hunt abroad for flies.
Ne’er leaving7 till he8 flies gets in, which are9
Entangled10 soon11 within his subtle snare,
Like treacherous hosts,12 which do13 much welcome make   15
Their guests, yet watch how they their lives14 may take.

A Comparison between Gold and the Sun

I am the purest of all Nature’s works;
No dross nor sluggish moisture in me lurks.
I am within the bowels of the Earth;
None knows of what, or whence, I took my birth.
And as the sun, I shine in glory bright;                                   5
Only I want his beams to make a light.
And as the sun is chief of planets high,
So on the Earth the chiefest thing am I.
And as the sun rules there as lord and king,
So on the Earth I govern everything.                                      10
And as the sun doth run about the world,
So I about from man to man am1 hurled.

Poets Have Most Pleasure in this Life.

Nature most pleasure doth to poets give,
If pleasure1 in variety doth2 live.
Each sense of theirs3 by fancy new is fed,
Which fancy in a torrent brain is bred.
Contrary ’tis4 to all that’s born on Earth,                                    5
For fancy is delighted most at’s birth.
Whatever else5 is born with pain comes forth,6
Hath neither beauty, strength, nor perfect growth.7
But fancy needs not time to make it grow;8
The brain’s9 like gods, from whence all things do flow.         10

A garden they’ve, which10 Paradise we call,11
Forbidden fruits, which tempt young lovers all,
Grow on the trees,12 which in the midst doth stand,13
Beauty on one, desire on th’other hand.14
The devil,15 self conceit, full16 craftily                                       15
Doth17 take the serpent’s shape of flattery,
For to deceive the female sex thereby,
Which made is18 only of inconstancy.
The male, high credence, to the female sex19
Yields fondly anything which they do20 ask.                            20
Two rivers round this garden run about;
The one is confidence, the other doubt.
Every21 bank is set with fancy’s flowers;
Wit raines upon them fine refreshing showers.
Truth is the lord and owner22 of this place,                              25
But ignorance this garden out will23 raze.

Then, from this garden,24 to a forest goes,25
Where many cedars of high knowledge grow,26
Oaks of strong judgment, hazel wits27—which tree
Bears nuts full of conceits, when cracked they be—              30
And smooth-tongued beech; kind-hearted willow28 bows
And yields to all that honesty allows.
Here29 birds of eloquence do sit and sing,
Build nests of logic, reasons forth to bring.30
Some birds of sophistry till hatched there lie;                         35
Winged with false principles, away they fly.
Here doth31 the poet hawk, hunt, run32 a race,
Until he weary grows, then leaves this place.

Then33 goes a-fishing to a river’s side,
Whose water clear doth flow with fancy’s tide;34                   40
Angles with wit to catch the fish of fame,
To feed his mem’ry35 and preserve his name.
Ships of ambition he builds,36 swift and strong;
Sails of imaginations drive ’em along,37
With winds of several praises fills them38 full,                       45
Swims39 on the salt sea brain,40 round the world’s skull.
The thoughts are mariners which, that they may41
’Scape shipwrecks of dislike, work night and day.42
Some43 ships are cast44 upon the sands of spite,
And rocks of malice sometimes split them quite.                   50
But merchant poets, whose shipmaster’s45 mind,
Do compass take some unknown land to find.

The Head of Man Compared to a Church


The head of man’s a church, where reason preaches,
Directs the life, and every thought it teaches,
Persuades the mind to live in peace and quiet,
And not in fruitless contemplation’s2 riot.
“For why,” says Reason, “you shall damnèd be                 5
From all content, for curiosity;3
To seek about for what4 you cannot find
Will5 be a torment to a restless mind.”

The Mine of Wit

’Tis strange men think so vain, and seem so sage,
And act so foolish in this latter1 age.
Their brains are always working some design,
Which plots they dig, as miners in a2 mine.
Fancies are min’rals, and3 the mine’s4 the head,                5
Some gold, some5 silver, iron, tin, some6 lead.
The furnace which ’tis melted in is great,
And motion quick doth give7 a glowing heat.
The mouth’s the gutter where the ore doth run;8
The hammer which the bars do beat’s9 the tongue.          10
The ear’s the forge to shape and form it out,
And several merchants send it all about.
And as the metal’s worth, the price is set;
Scholars, which are the buyers, most10 do get.
On gold and silver, which are fancies fine,                         15
Are poets stamped, as masters of that coin.
Hard iron of strong judgment’s11 fit for use
In12 peace or war, to join up errors loose.
Though lead is dull, yet often use13 is made,
Like to translators in every language14 trade.                    20
Tin is but15 weak, and of small strength we see,
Yet, joined with silver wits, ’t makes16 alchemy.
Half-witted men joined with strong wits might17 grow
To be of use, and make a glist’ring show.