Nature Calls a Counsel, which is Motion, Figure, Matter, and Life, to Advise about Making the World.

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When Nature first the world’s foundation laid,2
She called a counsel how it might be made.3
Motion was first, who4 had a subtle wit,
And then came Life, and Form, and Matter fit.
First Nature spake:5 “My friends, if we agree,             5
We can and may do a fine work,” said she,
“Make some things to adore us,6 worship give,
Whereas now we but to7 ourselves do live.
Besides, it is my nature things to make,
To give out work, and8 you directions take.               10
Wherefore if you will pleasure have therein,9
You’ll10 breed the Fates in housewif’ry to spin,
And make strong Destiny to take some11 pains,
Lest she grow idle, let her12 link some chains.
Inconstancy and Fortune turn a wheel,                      15
Since both are13 wanton, cannot stand, but reel.
And as for moisture, let it water give,14
Which heat suck up, to make things grow and live,15
And let sharp cold stay things that run about,
And drought stop holes, to keep the water out.         20
Vacuum and darkness they will domineer
If Motion’s power make no16 light appear;
Wherefore produce a light, the world to see,17
My only child from all eternity—
Beauty, my love, my joy and dear delight—                25
Else darkness rude will cover her with spite.”
        “Alas!” said Motion, “all pains I can take18
Will do no good, Matter a brain must19 make,
And Figure20 draw a circle, round, and small,
Where in the midst must stand a glassy ball,              30
Without convex, but inwardly21 concave,
And in its middle22 a round small hole must have,
That species may thorough pass, and Life23
May view all things as through a prospective.”24
        “Alas!” said Life, “whatever we do make,           35
Death, my great enemy, will from us take:
And who can hinder his strong,25 mighty power?
He with his cruelty doth26 all devour,
And Time, his agent, brings27 all to decay:
Thus neither Death nor Time will you obey.               40
He cares for none of your commands, nor will
Obey your laws, but doth what likes him28 still.
He knows his power far exceedeth ours,
For whatsoe’er we make, he soon devours.
Let me advise you ne’er to take29 such pains              45
A world to make, since Death hath all the gains.”
        Figure’s opinion did agree with Life,
“For Death,” said she, “will fill the world with strife.
What Form soever I do turn into,
Death finds me out: that Form he doth undo.”            50
Then Motion spake: “None hath such cause as I
For to complain, for Death makes Motion die.
’Tis best to let alone this work, I think.”
Says Matter, “Death corrupts, and makes me stink.”
Says Nature, “I am of another mind:                            55
If we let Death alone, we soon shall find
He wars will make, and raise a mighty power,
If we divert him not, may us devour.
He is ambitious, will in triumph sit,30
Envies my works, and seeks my State to get.31            60
And Fates, though they upon great Life attend,
Yet fear they Death, and dare not him32 offend.
Though two be true, and spin as Life them bids,
The third is false, and cuts short the long threads.33
Let us agree, for fear we should do worse,                   65
And make some work for to employ34 his force.”
Then all rose up: “We do submit,” said35 they,
“And36 Nature’s will in every thing obey.”
        First Matter she materials in did bring,37
And Motion cut, and carved out every thing.               70
And Figure, she did draw the forms and plots,
And Life divided all out into lots.
And Nature, she surveyed, directed all,
And with four elements38 built the world’s ball.
The solid earth she as foundation39 laid;                       75
The waters round about as walls were raised,40
Where every drop lay close, like41 stone or brick,
Whose moisture like to42 mortar made them stick.
Air, as the ceiling, keeps all close within,43
Lest some materials out of place might spring.            80
And presses down the seas, lest44 they should rise
And45 overflow the Earth, and drown the skies.
For as a roof is46 laid upon a wall,
To keep it steady, that no side may47 fall,
So Nature in that place air wisely stayed,48                   85
And fire, like tile or slate, the highest laid49
To keep out rain, or wet, else it would rot:
So50 would the world corrupt if fire were not.
The planets, like as weather-fans, turn round;
The sun a dial in the midst is found,                                90
Where he doth give so just account of time51
And52 measures all, though round, by even line.
But when the Earth was made, and seed did sow,53
Plants on the Earth, and minerals down grow,54
Then creatures made, which Motion did give55 sense, 95
Yet reason none to give56 intelligence.
But Nature found, when she to make Man came,57
It was more difficult than worlds to frame;58
For she did strive to make him long to last,
And so into eternity him59 cast.                                         100
Who60 in no other place could be kept61 long,
But in eternity, that castle strong.
There she was sure that Death she could keep62 out,
Although he is a warrior strong and stout.
Man she would make, but not like other kind:63            105
Though not in body, like a God in mind.
Then she did call her counsel once again,
Told them the greatest work did64 yet remain.
“For how,” said she, “can we ourselves new make?65
Yet Man we must like to ourselves create,66                    110
Or else he never can67 escape Death’s snare;
To make this work requires68 both skill and care.
But I a mind will mix69 as I think fit,
With knowledge, understanding, and with wit.
And Motion, you your servants70 must employ,              115
Which Passions are, to wait still in the eye,
To dress, and clothe this71 mind in fashions new,
Which none knows better how to do72 you,
That, though his body die,73 this mind shall74 live,
And a free will we must unto it give.                                 120
But Matter, you from Figure form must take,
And Man from other creatures different75 make.
For he shall upright go;76 the rest shall not.
And Motion, you in him must tie a knot
Of several motions, there to meet in one.                         125
Thus Man like to himself shall be alone.
You, Life, command the Fates a thread to spin,
From which small thread the body shall begin.
And while the thread doth last, not cut in twain,
The body shall in motion still remain.                                130
But when the thread is broke, he77 down shall fall,
And for a time no motion have at all.
But yet the mind shall live and never die;
We’ll raise the body too for company.
Thus, like ourselves, we can78 make things to live          135
Eternally, but no past times can give.

Death’s Endeavor to Hinder and Obstruct Nature

When Death did hear what Nature did intend,
To hinder her he all his force did bend.
But finding all his forces were too weak,
He always strives the thread of Life to break,
And strives1 to fill the mind with black despair,        5
Lets it not rest in peace, nor free from care.
And since he cannot make it die, he will
Send grief and sorrow to torment it still.
With grievous pains the body he displeases,
And binds it hard with chains of strong diseases.    10
His servants Sloth and Sleep he doth employ
To get half of the time before they die:
But Sleep, a friend to Life, oft disobeys
His master’s will, and softly down her lays
Upon her2 weary limbs, like birds in nest,                  15
And gently locks her3 senses up in rest.

A World in an Earring

An earring round may well a zodiac1 be,
Wherein a sun goes round, which we don’t2 see;
And planets seven about that sun may move,
And he stand still, as learnèd men3 would prove;
And fixed stars like twinkling diamonds, placed                   5
About this earring, which a world is, vast.
That same which doth the earring hold, the hole,
Is that we call the North and Southern Pole;4
There nipping frosts may be, and winters5 cold,
Yet never on the lady’s ear take hold.                                      10
And lightning,6 thunder, and great winds may blow
Within this earring, yet the ear not know.
Fish there may swim in seas, which ebb and flow,7
And islands be, wherein do spices grow;8
There crystal rocks hang dangling at each ear,                     15
And golden mines as jewels may they wear.
There earthquakes9 be, which mountains vast down fling,
And yet ne’er stir the lady’s ear, nor ring.
There meadows10 be, and pastures fresh and green,
And cattle feed, and yet be never seen,                                   20
And gardens fresh,11 and birds which sweetly sing,
Although we hear them not in an earring.
There12 night and day, and heat and cold, and so13
May14 life and death, and young and old still grow.15
Thus16 youth may spring, and several ages die;                    25
Great plagues may be, and no infections17 nigh.
There cities18 be, and stately houses19 built,
Their20 inside gay, and finely may be gilt.
There churches be,21 wherein priests teach and sing,22
And steeples23 too, yet hear the bells not ring.                      30
From thence may pious tears to Heaven run,24
And yet the ear not know which way they’re gone.
There markets be,25 where things are26 bought and sold,
Though th’ear knows not the price their27 markets hold.
There governors do28 rule, and kings do29 reign,                  35
And battles fought, where many may be30 slain.
And all within the compass of this ring,
Whence they no31 tidings to the wearer bring.
Within the32 ring, wise counsellors may sit,
And yet the ear not one wise word may get.                           40
There may be dancing all night at a ball,
And yet the ear be not disturbed at all.
There rivals33 duels fight, where some are slain;
There34 lovers mourn, yet hear them not complain.
And Death may dig a lover’s grave: thus were                        45
A lover dead in a fair lady’s ear.
But when the ring is broke, the world is done;
Then lovers they into Elysium run.35