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

Head and Brain Dressed


A brain wherein no dullness doth appear,2
From gross opinions washed with reasons clear;3
A4 judgement hard and sound, grated therein;5
Quick wit squeezed into it, with6 fancies thin;
A bunch of scent7, sounds, colours, tied up fast             5
With threads of motion, and strong nerves to last.
In memory then stew them with long time,8
So take them up, and put in spirits of wine.9
Then pour it10 forth into a dish of touch;
The meat is good, although it is11 not much.                   10

A Tart

Life took some flour of white complexions made;1
Churned nourishment as butter she did add,2
And knead3 it well; then on a board it placed,4
And rolled it oft, until a pie was raised.5
Then did she take some lips, like cherries6 red,                      5
And sloe-black eyes from a fair virgin’s head,
And strawberry teats from high banks of7 white breast,
And juice from raspis fingers ends did press.8
These she put in the pie, and did it9 bake
Within a heart, which she straight hot did make.                  10
Then drew it out with reason’s peel, and sends10
It up to Nature; she it much commends.11

Nature’s Dessert


Sweet marmalade of kisses newly2 gathered;
Preserved children which were never3 fathered;
Sugar of beauty, which melts away4 soon;
Marchpane of youth, and childish macaroon;
Sugar-plum words, which fall sweet from5 the lips;            5
And wafer promises, which waste into6 chips;
Biscuits of love, which crumble7 all away;
Jelly of fear that quaking,8 quivering lay.
Then was a fresh green-sickness cheese brought in,9
And tempting fruit, like that which Eve made sin,10           10
With cream of honor, which was thick and good;11
Firm nuts of sincere friendship12 by it stood.
Grapes of delight, dull spirits to revive,
Whose juice, ’tis said, doth Nature keep alive.
All this dessert did Nature might’ly please:13                        15
She ate and drank, then went to rest in ease.14

Nature’s Officers

Eternity, as usher, goes1 before.
And Destiny, as porter, keeps the door
Of the great world, who lets Life out and in.
The Fates, her maids, this2 thread of Life do spin.
Mutability orders with great3 care.                                         5
Motion, her footboy, runneth everywhere.
Time, as her page, doth carry up her train,
But in his service he doth little4 gain.
The Days are the surveyors, which do5 view
All Nature’s works, which6 are both old and new.               10
The Seasons four by turns their circuits7 take,
Like judges sit, and distributions8 make;
The Months, their9 pen-clerks, write down everything,
Make deeds of gifts, and bonds of all that spring.
Life’s office is to pay and give out all                                      15
To her receiver, Death, when he doth10 call.

Nature’s House

The ground on which this house is built so strong1
Is2 honesty, that hates to do a wrong.
Foundations deep were laid, and very sure,
By love, which to all times will3 firm endure.
The walls, strong friendship; hearts for brick lay thick,        5
And constancy, as mortar, made them stick.
Freestones4 of obligations pillars raise,
To bear high-roofèd thanks, sealèd5 with praise.
Windows of knowledge let in light of truth;
Curtains of joy are6 drawn by pleasant youth.                         10
Chimneys with7 touchstone of affection made,
Wherein is beauty, as love’s fuel,8 laid.
The hearth is innocent marble9 white,
Whereon the fire of love burns clear and10 bright.
The doors are cares, misfortunes out to keep,11                      15
Lest poverty that’s cold might thorough creep.12
Besides there,13 rooms of several passions stand,14
Some on the right, and some on th’other hand.15
This house’s outside’s16 tiled with noble deeds,
With17 high ambition covered, as18 with leads.                       20
Turrets of fame are built on every side,
And in this palace Nature takes great pride.
It is best furnished of all19 Nature’s courts,
For it is hung20 with virtues of all sorts,
As21 moral virtues, and with those of art:                                 25
The last from acts, the first come22 from the heart.