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.

The Conclusion of this Part


Give me that2 wit whose fancy’s not confined,
That buildeth on itself, with no brain3 joined,
Not like two4 oxen yoked, and forced to draw,
Or like two witnesses t’one5 deed in law,
But like the sun, that needs no help to rise,                                5
Or like a bird in6 air which freely flies.
For good wits run like parallels7 in length,
Need no triang’lar8 points to give them9 strength.
Or like the sea, which runneth round without,
And grasps the Earth with twining arms about.                     10
Thus true-born wits to others strength may give,
Yet by their10 own, and not by others live.

Those verses still to me do seem the best11
Where lines run smooth, and wit’s with ease12 expressed,
Where fancies flow, as gentle waters glide,                             15
And13 flow’ry banks of rhet’ric on14 each side,
That when they read, delight may them invite15
To read again, and wish16 they could so write.
For verses should,17 like to a beauteous face,
Both in the eye and in the heart take place,                            20
That18 readers may,19 like lovers, wish to be
Always in their dear mistress company.