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.

Of Stars

We find that i’th’East Indies1 stars there be,
Which we in our horizon ne’er did2 see;
Yet we do take great pains in glasses clear
To see what stars do in the sky appear.
But yet the more we search, the less we know,                  5
Because we find our work doth endless grow.
For who knows, but those stars3 we see by night
Are suns which to some other worlds give light?
But could our outward senses pace the sky,
As well as can4 imaginations high,5                                     10
If we were there, we might as little6 know
As those which stay, and never up do7 go.
Then let no8 man in fruitless pains life spend:
The most we know is, Nature death will send.

It Is Hard to Believe that there Are Other Worlds in this World.

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Nothing so hard in nature as faith is,2
For3 to believe impossibilities—
Not that they’re not,4 but that they do not clear5
Unto our reason and to sense appear.6                      
For reason cannot find them out, since they7                    5
Seem wrought beyond all Nature’s course and way.8
For9 many things our senses dull may scape,10
For they’re too gross to know each form and11 shape.
So in this world another world12 may be,
Which13 we do neither touch, taste, smell, hear, see.14   10
What eye so clear is, yet did ever see15
Those little hooks that in the loadstone be,16
Which draw hard iron, or give reasons why17
The needle’s point still in the north will lie?
As for example, atoms in the air                                           15
We ne’er perceive, although the light be fair.
And18 whatsoever can a body claim,
Though ne’er so small, life may be in the same.
And what has19 life may understanding have,
Though’t20 be to us as buried in the21 grave.                      20
Then probably may men and women small,
Live in the world, which we know not22 at all,
May build them houses to dwell in, and make23
Orchards and gardens,24 where they pleasure take,
Have25 birds which sing, and cattle in the field,                25
May plow and sow, and there26 small corn may yield;
They may have commonwealths,27 and kings to reign,
Make wars and battles, where are many28 slain,
And all without our hearing, or our sight,
Or29 any of our other senses30 light.                                     30
And other stars, and suns, and moons31 may be,
Which our dull eyes shall never come to see.
But we are apt to laugh at tales so told:
Thus senses gross do back our reason32 hold.
Yet things which are ’gainst nature we think33 true,        35
That spirits change and can take bodies new,
That life may be, yet in no body live,
For which no sense nor reason we can give.
As34 incorporeal spirits this fancy35 feigns,
Yet fancy cannot be without some brains.                          40
If fancy36 without substance cannot37 be,
Then souls are more than reason well can see.

Of Many Worlds in this World

Just like as in1 a nest of boxes round
Degrees of sizes in2 each box are found,
So in this world, may many worlds more3 be,
Thinner and less, and less still by degree.
Although they are not subject to our sense,              5
A world may be no bigger than twopence.
Nature is curious, and such works may shape4
Which our dull senses easily escape.5
For creatures small as atoms may be there,
If every atom6 a creature’s figure bear.                    10
If atoms four7 a world can make,8 then see
What several worlds might in an earring be.
For millions of these9 atoms may be in
The head of one small little single pin.
And if thus small, then ladies well may10 wear       15
A world of worlds as pendants in each ear.

Several Worlds in Several Circles

There may be many worlds like circles round;
In after ages more worlds may be found.1
If we by art of shipping could into2
Each circle slip, we might perhaps it know.3
This world compared to some may be but small:              5
No doubt but4 Nature made degrees of all.
If not, Drake ne’er had made so quick a skip5
About the largest circle in6 his7 ship.
For8 some may be so big as none can swim,
Had they the life of old Methusalem.                                  10
Or had they lives to number with each day,
They would want time to compass half the way.
But if that Drake had lived in Venus’s9 star,
His journey shorter might have10 been by far.