Some learnèd men, which think1 to reason well,
Say light and color in the brain do dwell,
That motion in the brain doth light beget,2
And if no brain, the world in darkness shut.3
But be it4 that the brain hath eyes to see, 5
Then5 eyes and brain would6 make the light to be.
If so, poor Donne was out when he did say
If all the world were blind, ’twould still be day.
Say they, light would not in the air7 reign,
Unless you’ll grant8 the world were one great brain. 10
Some ages in some opinions all agree;9
The next doth strive to make them false to be.
But10 what is new doth all so pleasing sound,11
That reasons old are as mere nonsense found.12
But all opinions are by fancy fed, 15
And truth lies under those opinions,13 dead.
We should those men think mad which should us tell1
That they did see a sound, or taste a smell.
Yet reason proves a man doth not err much
Whenas he says2 his senses all are touch.
If actions in a picture3 be lively4 told, 5
The brain straight thinks the eye the same5 behold.
The stomach hungry, the nose good meat doth6 smell;
The brain doth7 think that smell the tongue tastes well.
If we a thief do see, and do him8 fear,
We straight do think that breaking doors9 we hear. 10
Imaginations just like motions make,
That every sense is struck with a10 mistake.
Each sinew is a small and slender string,1
Which to the body all the senses bring.2
And they like3 pipes or gutters hollow be,
Where animal spirits run continually.
Though small, yet they4 such matter do contain 5
As in the skull doth lie, which we call brain.
That makes if anyone doth strike the heel,
The thought of that sense in the brain doth feel.
Yet ’tis5 not sympathy, but ’tis the same6
Which makes us think and feel the pain.7 10
For had the heel such quantity of brain
As8 doth the head and skull therein contain,
Then would such thoughts, which in the brain dwell high,
Descend down low, and in the heel9 would lie.
In sinews small, brain scattered lies about; 15
It wants both room and quantity, no doubt.
For if a sinew so10 much brain could hold,11
Or had so large a skin it12 to enfold
(As hath13 the skull), then might the toe or knee,
Had they an optic nerve, both hear and see. 20
Had sinews room fancy therein to breed,
Copies of verses might from the heel14 proceed.