Similizing Navigation


The sea’s like deserts, which2 are wide and long,
Where ships as horses run, whose breath is strong.
The sternman holds the reins, thereby to guide
The sturdy steed on foamy seas to ride.
The wind’s his whip, to make3 it forward run,4                5
And on each5 side, as6 stirrups, serves a7 gun.
The sails, as saddles, spread upon the back;
The ropes, as girts, which in a storm will crack;
The pump, the breech, where excrements come out;
The needle, as the eye, guides it about.                               10

Similizing the Sea to Meadows and Pastures, the Mariners to Shepherds, the Mast to a Maypole, the Fish to Beasts


The waves like ridges of plowed land are2 high,
Whereat the ship3 oft stumbling4 down doth lie.
But in a calm, level as meadows seem,5
And by6 its saltness makes it look as green.
When ships thereon a slow, soft pace do7 walk,                   5
Then mariners, as shepherds, sing and talk.
Some whistle, and some on their pipes do play,
And thus with mirth they8 pass their time away.
And every mast is like a maypole high,
Round which they dance, though not so merrily                 10
As shepherds do when they their lasses bring
Garlands to maypoles,9 tied with silken string.10
Instead of garlands, they hang on their mast11
Huge sails, and ropes to tie these12 garlands fast;13
Instead of lasses they do dance with Death,                          15
And for their music they have Boreas’s breath;
Instead of wine and wassails, drink salt tears,
And for their meat they feed on nought but fears.
For flocks of sheep, great shoals of herrings swim;
The whales as ravenous wolves14 do feed on them.            20
As sportful kids skip over hillocks green,
So dancing dolphins on the waves are seen.
The porpoise, like their watchful dog, espies,
And gives them warning when great winds will rise.
Instead of barking, he his head doth15 show                         25
Above the waters when they roughly16 flow,
And like as men in time of show’ring rain17
And wind do not in open fields remain,18
But quickly run for shelter to a tree,19
So ships at anchor lie upon the sea.                                         30

Comparing Waves and a Ship to Rebellion


Thus the rough seas, which boist’rous2 winds enrage,
Assault a ship, and in fierce war engage.
Just3 like rude multitudes, whom4 factions swell
With5 rankled spleen, which makes them to6 rebel
Against their governor,7 thronging about,                           5
With hideous noise to throw his8 power out.
And if their power gets the upper hand,
They’ll9 make him sink, and then in triumph stand,
Foaming at mouth, as if great deeds they’d done,
When they were multitudes, and he but one.                     10
So seas do foam and froth about a ship,10
And both do11 strive which shall the better get.
But12 wisdom, like skilled mariners, through wide13
And gaping jaws of Death the ship doth guide,14
And to a haven safe will bring her in,15                               15
Although through many dangers she did swim.16

Similizing the Head of Man to the World


The head of man is like the world made round,
And2 all the elements are in it3 found.
The brain’s the4 earth from whence all plants do spring,
And from the womb it doth all creatures bring.
Forehead and nose are5 hills that6 do rise high,                       5
And7 overtop the dales that level lie.
The hair, like8 trees which long9 in length do grow,
And like their10 leaves, which11 wind waves12 to and fro.
Wit, like to several creatures, wild doth run13
On several subjects, which14 each other shun.15                      10
The blood, as seas, doth through the veins run round,
The sweat, as springs by which fresh water’s found.
As winds, which from the hollow caves do blow,
So through the mouth the winded breath doth go.
The eyes are like the sun, and do give16 light;                           15
When senses are asleep, it is dark night.
And17 after sleep half open are the eyes,
Like18 dawning light, when first the sun doth rise.
When they do drowsy grow, then sets the sun,19
And when the lids are shut it is quite gone.20                            20
When heavy they’re and dull, like mist it seems,21
Or a dark cloud which hides the sun’s bright beams,22
Which shows that there some23 shower of tears will fall,
Where cheeks, as flow’ry banks, grow moist24 withal.
As twinkling stars show in dark clouds most25 clear,              25
So fancies quick do in the brain appear.
Imaginations like the orbs move round,26
Whereof some27 quick, others are slower found.28
And29 solid thoughts, like30 the twelve signs, do prove,31
And round32 the zodiac of wisdom move,33                               30
Where they as constantly in wisdom run,
As in the line ecliptic doth the sun.

I to th’ecliptic34 line the head compare;
The illustrious35 wit, to36 the sun’s bright sphere.
The brain I liken to37 the solid Earth,                                          35
From whence all wisdom hath its life and birth,38
And39 as the Earth, so is the40 head’s round ball,
For it is41 crowned with orbs celestial42
And thus the43 head and world as one agree,
For Nature made44 the head a world to be.                                40

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.