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OF PLANTS, BOOK II
Translated by J. O.

Cybeles holy mysteries now begin.
Hence, all you males, for you it is a sin
One moment in this hallowed place to stay,
You jibing males, who no devotion play,
Into the female secrets do not pry, 5
Or them at least pretend you don’t descry.
’Tis rude that sex t’inspect to narrowly,
Whose outside with such beauties treates the eye.
Auspicious glory of th’ inlighten’d skie,
More sacred than thy brothers deity, 10
With thy whole horns, kind Luna! favour me,
And let thy crescent fate look luckily.
Thee many names and offices adorn.
By thy kind aid poor, tender babes are bor n.
Thou easest women when their labour’s hard, 15
And the wombs vital gates you, Jana, guard.
The menstruous courses you bring down, and them,
Changing, convert into a milky stream.
Women unconstant as the sea, you bind
To rules, both flow according to thy mind. 20
Oh! many the rivolets of my fancy glide
By the same secret force which moves the tide.
Be thou the midwife to my teeming brain,
And let it fruitful be, as free from pain.
It was the time when April decks the year,25
And the glad fields in pompous garbs appear,
That the recruited plants now leave their beds,
And at the suns command dare shew their heads.
How pleas’d they are the heav’ns a to see,
And that from winters fetters they are free! 30
The world around and sisters, whom they love,
They view, such objects ure their smiles must move. (usage
Straight their great work the diligent nation ply,
And bus’ness mind amidst their luxury.
Each one contends with all her might and main 35
Each day an higher, verdant crown to .
Each one does leaves with beauteous flow’rs produce,
And hastens to be fit for humane use.
Equipp’d they make no stay, but one and all,
Intent upon th’ affair, a council call. 40
Each tribe (for there are many), as of old
Their custome was, a separate council hold.
They’re near a thousand tribes, their minutes well
An hundred clerk-like tongues can scarcely tell,
Nor cou’d I know them (for they don’t reveal 45
Their sacred acts, but cautiously conceal),
Had not my laurel told me (whose tribes name
The female’s stil’d), whch summond’ thither came.
The secrets of the House she open laid,
Telling how each herb spoke and what it said.50
Ye gentle, florid part of humane kind
(To you and not to men I speak), pray mind
My words, and them most stedfeastly believe,
Which from the Delphick laurel you receive.
’Twas midnight (whilst the moon, at full, shone bright, 55
And her cheeks seem’d to swell with moisten’d light),
When on their loosen’d roots the plants that grow
In th’ Oxford gardens did to council go,
And such, I mean, as succour womens pains.
Orpheus, you’d think, had mov’d them by his strains. 60
They met upon a bed, neat, smooth and round,
And softly sate in order on the ground.
Mugwort first took her place (at that time she
The President of the council chanc’d to be).
Birthwort, her predecessor in the chair, 65
Next sate, whose virtues breeding women share.
Then bawm, with smiles and pleasure in her face,
Without regard to dignity took place.
Tyme, sav’ry, wormwood, which looks ruggedly,
Sparagus, sothernwood, both he and she, 70
And crocus too, glad still soft maids to chear,
Once a sad lover, merry does appear.
And thou, amaracus, who a trifling ill
Didst mourn, when thou the fragrant box did spill
Of ointment, in this place now far more sweet 75
Than the occasion of thy death doest meet.
There lilies with red peonies find a room,
And purple violets the place perfume.
Yea noisome devils-turd, because she knows
Her worth, into that sweet assembly goes. 80
The milky lettuce too does thither move,
And water-lily, though a foe to love.
Sweet ladies-glove with stinking horehound come,
And kind germander, which relieves the womb.
Poley and calamint, which on mountains dwell, 85
But ast frost and snow are guarded well.
Next vital sage, well joined with wholsom rue,
And flower-de-luce, nam’d from its splendid hue.
Then hart-wort (much more grateful to the deer
Than dittany) with wild carrots enters there. 90
Consound and plantain, frugal herbs are they,
Who all things keep safe under lock and key.
And master-wort, whose name dominion wears,
With her who an angelick title bears.
Lavender, corn-rose, pennyroyal sate, 95
And that which cats esteem so delicate.
After a while, slow-pac’d, with much ado,
Ground-pine with her short legs crept thither too.
Behind the rest camomile cou’d not stay,
Through stones and craggy rocks she cut her way. 100
From Spanish woods the wholsom vett’ony came,
The only glory of the Vettons name.
Minerva’s plant did likewise thither hie,
And was companion to Mercury.
There scarlet madder too a place did find, 105
Drawing a train of its long root behind.
Thither at last too dittany did repair,
Half-starv’d, and griev’d to leave the Cretan air.
With her the bold, strong sow-bread came along,
And hundreds more (in short) to them did throng. 110
Many besides from th’ Indies cross’d the main,
Plants that of our chill clime did much complain.
But Oxford’s fame, through both the Indies told,
Eas’d all their cares, and warm’d the nipping cold.
The pigmey and gigantick sons o’ th’ wood 115
Betwixt all these in equal spaces stood,
Spreading their verdant glories round above,
Which did delight and admiration move.
The scarlet oak, that worms for fruit brings forth,
Which the Hesperian fruit exceed in worth, 120
Was there, good womens maladies to ease,
And sprains, which we as truly call disease.
Her treacherously the ivy does embrace,
And kills the tree with kindness in her face.
Hardly, in nobler scarlet clad, the rose, 125
The envy of those stately berries, grows.
Near which the birch her rigid arms extend,
And savine, which kind sinners much befriends.
Next them the beech with limbs so strong and large,
With the bush purchas’d at so small a charge. 130
Nor did the golden quince herself conceal,
Or myrrh, whose wounds distemper’d mortals heal.
Lastly (we plants whom I forget to name,
Excuse me) juniper too thither came,
And laurel, sacred to the sons of Fame. 135
Such reverend heads did the green senate fill,
The night was calm,. all things were hush’d and still.
Each plant with listening leaves stood mute to hear
Their pres’dent speak, and these her dictates were.

MUGWORT the President, begins

“After long cold, grave matrons! in this place 140
(For th’ good of ours (I hope) and human race,)
This sacred garden we, whilst others sleep,
Blest Aprils sacred nights come here to keep.
Our thanks to thee, great father sun! we pay,
And to thee, Luna! for thy nuring ray, 145
Who the bright witness art of what we say.
But the short moments of our liberty
(Who fetter’d at day-break again must lie)
Let us improve, and our affairs attend,
Nor festal hours, like idle mortals, spend. 150
’This fit at this time we shou’d truly live,
When winters colds of half our life deprive.
Come then, from useful pains make no delay,
Winter will give you too much time to play.
How many foes Jove has to you assign’d, 155
And what a task you in the conquest fine,
By numerous and great fatigues you’ve try’d,
And to th’ opprest kin aid have oft supply’d.
You’re generous, noble, female plants, nor ought
The glory of your sex cheap to be bought. 160
The self-same battels you must wage again,
Which will as long as teeming wombs remain.
But that to war you may securer go,
’Tis fit the foes and your own strength you know.
Call the bright moon to witness what you say, 165
Whilst each such tributes to their countrey pay.
Let each one willingly both teach and learn,
Nor let that move their envy or their scorn.
And first (I think) upon that menstruous source,
My constant task, ’tis fit we shou’d discourse. 170
From what original spring that Nilus goes,
Or by what influx it so oft o’rflows,
What will restrain, and what drive on the tide,
And what goods or what mischiefs in it glide.
See you it secret mysteries disclose, 175
A thing so weighty ’tis no shame t’ expose.”
She spake, the rest began, and hotly all
(As scholars use) upon the business fall.

PENNY-ROYAL

First penny-royal, to advance her fame
(And from her mouth a grateful odour came), 180
Tells ’em, they say, how many ills that source
Threatens, whene’r it stops its purple course.
That foggy dulness in the limbs attends,
And under its own weight the body bends.
Things ne’r so pleasant once now will not please, 185
And life itself becomes a mere disease.
Ulcers and inflammations too it breeds,
And dreadful, bloudy vomiting succeeds.
The womb now labouring seems to strive for breath,
And the soul struggles with a short-liv’d death. 190
The lungs opprest hard respiration make,
And breathless coughs soon all the fabrick shake.
Yea the proud foes the Capitol, in time,
And all the minds well-guarded towers climb.
Hence watchful nights, but frightful dreams proceed, 195
And minds that suffer true, false evils breed.
Dropsie at last the wearied life o’rflows,
Which floating from its shipwreck’d vessel goes.
How oft, alas! poor tender, blooming maids
(Before loves pow’r their kinder hearts invades)200
Does this sad malady with clouds o’rcast,
Which all the longing overs passion blast?
The face looks green, the ruddy lips grow pale,
Like roses tinctur’d by a sulphurous gale.
To ashes, coals, and lime their appetite 205
(A loathsom treat) their stomach does invite.
But ’tis a sin to say the ladies eat
Such things, those are the vile distempers meat.
Thus penny-royal spake (more passionate
In words than humane voice can e’r relate), 210
At which, they say, the whole assembly, mov’d,
Wept o’r the loss of beauty, once belov’d.
So that good company, when day returns,
The setting of the moon, their mistress, mourns.
She told the means too, by what secret aid 215
That conquering ill did all the limbs invade.
Through the wombs arteries, said she, it goes,
And unto all the noted passes flows
(Whether the wombs magnetick pow’r’s the cause,
As the whole body floods the kidney draw, 220
Or that the moon, the queen of fluid things,
Directs and rules that, like the oceans springs).
But if the gates it finds so fortified
That the due current that way be deny’d,
It rages and it swells. The gross part stays, 225
And in the neighbouring parts dire revels plays,
Whilst the more liquid part does upward rise,
And into veins of purer nature flies.
It taints the rosie channels as it goes,
And all the soil’s corrupted where it flows. 230
The bane its journey through the cava takes,
And fierce attacks upon the liver makes.
And heart, whose right-side avenue it commands,
Whilst that for fear amaz’d and trembling stands.
But the left region so well-guarded seems, 235
That in her walls safe she herself esteems.
Nor stops it there, but on the lungs does seize,
Where, drawing breath, itself grows a disease.
Thence through small Propontis carried down,
It makes the port and takes the left-side town. 240
What will suffice that covetous disease,
Which all the hearts vast treasures cannot please?
But avarice still craves for more and more,
And if it all things don’t enjoy, is poor.
Th’ aorta its wild legions next engage, 245
Bless me! how uncontroul’d in that they rage!
The distand head and heel no safety knows,
Through ev’ry part th’ unbounded victor flows.
But, as the bloud through all the body’s us’d
To run, this plague through all the bloud’s diffus’d. 250
They all agreed, for none of them e’r doubt
How life in purple circles wheels about.
That plant thy’d hiss out of their company
Which Harvey’s circulation shou’d deny.

DITTANY

Dittany, though cold winds her lips did close, 255
Put on her winter-gown, and up she rose.
For what can hinder Grecian plants to be
Rhetorical, when they occasion see?
For penny-royal, painting that disease,
Her nice and quainter fansie did not please. 260
She spake to what the other did omit,
And pleas’d herself with her own prating wit.
“If this dire poisons force their duller eyes
Can’t see, whilst in the body warm it lies,
Think with yourselves how it offends the sense, 265
When all alone (nay dead) if driven thence.
Let dogs or men by chance but tast of it
(But on dogs rather let such mischiefs light),
Madness the tainted soul invades within,
And sordid leprosie rough casts the skin. 270
Whilst panting dogs quite raving mad appear,
And thirst for water, but the water fear,
It stabs an half-man by abortive birth,
And from the womb (oh! horrid) drags it forth.
Now fansie children born of such base bloud, 275
Which gives the embryo poison ’stead of food.
Nor is this all: for corn and vines too know
Its baneful force, by which fields barren grow.
A tree, once us’d to bear, its fruit denies.
If young it fades, and, if new-born, it dies. 280
Witness the ivies (’tis to shame) to you,
What good does their medicinal virtue do?
These also, rue! who all things do’st o’rcome,
From this strong venom must receive thy doom.
Plants dry and yellow, as in autumn, grow, 285
And herbs, as if they had the jaundice, show.
Offended bees with one small touch it drives
(Though murmuring to be exil’d) from their hives.
The wretched creatures leave their golden store
And sweet abodes, which they must see no more. 290
Nor do strong vats their wines within defend, (vats
Which in their very youth draw to their end.
But I name things of little eminence,
The warlike sword itself makes no defence.
And metals, which so oft have won the field, 295
To this effeminate distemper yield.
For frequent bloudshed, bloud now vengeance takes,
And mortal wounds ev’n in the weapons makes.
Beauty, the thing for which we woman love,
Th’ occasion of keen swords does often prove. 300
Let then the female-plague of those swords rebate,
Yea even the mem’ry of what’s so ingrate.
Maids with proud thoughts, alas! themselves deceive,
Whilst each herself a goddess does believe.
Like tyrants they misuse the pow’r they have, 305
And make their very worshiper their slave.
But if they truly would consider things,
And think what filth each month returning brings,
If they their cheating glasses then wou’d mind
(Which now they think so faithful and so kind), 310
How beautifuly they are they needs must find.
The smooth corrupter of their looks they taint,
Which long and certain signs at that time paint.
Each maid in that still suffers the disgrace
Of being poisoner to her own face. 315
What an unnatural distemper’s this,
Which ev’n to their own shadows mortal is!”
Thus she, and as much more she was about
To say, the whole assembly gave a shout.
Through all the boughs and all the leaves around 320
There went an angry, loud and murm’ring sound.
For they of womens honour tender are,
Though she thereof had seem’d to take no care.

PLANTAIN [PLANTAGENET], or WAY-BRED

Next way-bred rose, propt by her seven nerves,
Who th’ honour of a noble house preserves. 325
Her nature is astringent, which great hate
Of her among bloud-letters does create.
But her no quarrels more than words engage,
Nor does she ever, like mad mortals, rage.
“I envy not the praises, which to you, 330
Ye num’rouns race of leechy kind, are due.
The purple tyrant wisely you expel,
And, banishing such murdering bloud, do well.
Proudly he o’r the vital spirits reigns,
And cruelly insults in all the veins. 335
Arms he of deadly poson bears about,
And leads of maladies a mighty rout.
By why shou’d you such vain additions make,
And ills already great for greater take?
Whilst you so tragically paint the foe 340
More dreadful, but less credible they grow.
He lessens that wou’d raise an heroes fame
By lies, false praises cloud a glorious name.
One Geryon slew (a mighty feat), and he
Three bodies had, in this I can’t agree. 345
You many monster easily subdue,
But I scarce think such monstrous lyes are true.
Greek poets, ditt’ny, you who oft have read,
Keep up their art of lying, though they’re; dead.
But what their countrymen once said of you, 350
Pray mind it, for I fear ’tis very true.
Let that which blasts the corn a goddess be,
I cannot think her courses e’r could be
So hurtful to the grain. And then, I’m sure,
A fat of lusty wine is more secure (vat 355
From danger, where a thousand damsels sit,
Than if one druken beldam come at it.
None, cause a tast of that rank bloud they’ve had,
But for the place, from whence it comes, run mad.
Madness of dogs most certainly it cures, 360
As thy own author Pliny us assures.
Whether by womens touch the bee’s annoy’d
I cannot tell, but maids shou’d bees avoid.
Rue ought to let the fatal bloud remain
Within its vessel and ne’r force a vein, 365
If for her pains nought but her death she gain.
Thou, ivy, too more careful oughtst to be,
Both of thyself and thy great deity.
But when she says, swords edge it rebates,
I could rejoice, methinks, and bless the Fates, 370
If that be all the mischief it creates.
I only with a beauty might remain
Perfect, till that the lookinglass would stain.
But I waste time — By this sufficiently
These Grecian wonders are o’rthrown, that I 375
No woman see of this dread poison die. ”
At which the bramble rose (whose fluent tongue
With thorny sharpness arm’d is neatly hung),
And said all serpents have the gift to be
As much as these from their own venom free. 380
Nor wou’d the basilisk, whose baneful eye
All others kills, by his own image die.
This mov’d ’em, and they quaver’d with a smile,
Some wind you wou’d ha’ thought pass’d by the while.
For by that Cynick shrub great freedom’s shown, 385
Which he by constant use has made his own.
Way-bread at this took pet, displeas’d, that she
By such an one shou’d interrupted be,
And sate her down, when straight before ’em all
These words the rose from her fair lips let fall, 390
Whilst modest blushes beautified her face,
Like those in spring, that blooming flowers grace.

THE ROSE

“You Cretan dittany, who such poisons mix
(For on my kinsman wild-rose I’ll not fix)
With womens bloud, see what a sprightly grace 395
And ardent scarlet decks their lovely face.
No flower, no not Flora’s self to sight
Or touch than them appears more soft and white.
But at the same time also, take a view
Of Mans rough, prickly limbs and rusty hue. 400
You’ll say with butchers-broom sweet violets grow,
And mourn that lilies shou’d with brambles go.
Then let their eyes and reason testifie,
Whether pure veins their purer limbs supply.
You cannot say that dying vat is bad 405
From whence a florid colour may be had.
But this you’ll say, committed some offence,
Or the just moon had never driv’n it hence.
No, you’re mistaken. It has done no wrong,
But all the fault lies in its copious throng. 410
It therefore from the rest, by the great law
Of publick safety, order’d to withdraw.
So if a nation to such numbers rise
That them their native countrey can’t suffice,
To seek new lands some part of them are sent, 415
And suffer, for their countrey, banishment.
But why does woman-kind so much abound?
Oh! think not Nature e’r was lavish found.
Nor does she lay up riches to the end
(Like prodigals) she more may have to spend. 420
Whate’r she does is good. What then remains?
No room for doubt, the thing itself explains.
This bloudy vintage, see, lasts all the year,
And the fresh chyle duely does life repair.
The presses still with juice swell to the brink, 425
Of which they fill the hot, male bodies drink.
But temperate women seem to kiss the cup,
Nor does their heat suck all the liquor up.
A vital treasure for great uses she
Lays up, lest Nature shou’d a bankrupt be. 430
Lest both the parents shares of mingled love
Too little to beget a child shou’d prove,
Unless the mother some addition made
To perfect the design they both had laid.
One part on’t ’s red, the other white as snow, 435
And both from springs of the same colour flow.
One wood, you’d think and t’ other stones did yield,
Whilst out of both a living house they build.
The former, of such poysoning arts accus’d,
In which you fansie venom is infus’d 440
(Perhaps with this that fatal robe was dy’d
Which Hercules had sent him from his bride),
The tender embryos body does compose,
And for ten months to kind nutrition goes.
Nor is this all, but on the mothers breast 445
Again it meets the little infant guest.
Then chang’d it comes both in its hue and course,
Like Arethusa through a secret source.
Then from the paps it flows in double tides
Far whiter than the banks in which it glides. 450
The golden age of old such rivers drank,
That sprang from dugs of e’ry happy bank.
The candor and simplicity of men
Deserv’d the milky food of the infants then.
How just and prudent is Dame Natures care 455
Who for each age does proper food prepare!
Before the liver’s formed, the mothers bloud
Supplies the babe with necessary food.
And when to work the novice heat first goes
In its new shop, and scarce its bus’ness knows, 460
Its first imployment is in scarlet grain
(A childish task for learners) milk to stain.
At last in e’ry kind its skill it tries,
And spends itself in curiosities.
Now say it venom in the members breeds, 465
With which her child the careful mother feeds.
Their bane to infants cruel stepdames give,
Whist mothers suck from better springs derive.
But how, you’ll say, does that which infants love
So prejudicial to their mothers prove? 470
’Tis lively whilst i’ th’ native womb it lies,
But by the veins flung out, decays and dies.
Then shipwrack’d on the neighbouring shore it lies,
And, gasping, wishes for its obsequies.
This being deni’d, new strength it does recover,
And flies in vapours all the body over. 475
But what first tast fruits from the tree receive,
When, rotten, they no natural sign can give.
So in pure seed the lifes white mansion stands,
But surly death corrupted seed commands.
Of life death’s no good witness, do not think 480
A living man can like a carcass stink.
But you a running stream (that duly flows,
And no corruption by long-standing knows)
To be as hurtful in their nature, hold,
As if from some corrupted springs they roul’d. 485
But now do you go on (for much you know,
Part false, I think, part very true) and shew,
If any hurtful seeds you can descry
In humane bodies (where they often lie),
How quickly Natures orders they obey, 490
When to the bloud the flood-gates once give way.
The courses this perhaps may putrifie,
’Tis dangerous to keep bad company.
Is this the blouds fault? I’m no witch, I hope,
Through with my juice a man shou’d poison tope.” 495
She spake, and with ambrosial odours clos’d
Her speech, which many there, they say, oppos’d.
At last the laurels thoughts they all desir’d,
Th’ oracular laurels words they all admired.

LAUREL

“That fate which frequently attends on all 500
Great men does thee, egregious bloud, befal.
Some praise what others too much disapprove,
Excessive in their hatred as their love.
This man in prejudice, that in favour lies,
Whilst to their ears a various rumour flies. 505
Hear dittany. She says each womans know
The moon to bring each moneth with poisons down.
Nor need we mingle herbs or charms, each one
Medea proves in her own bloud alone.
Yet the fair rose, if all be true sh’ as said, 510
Each woman has in that a goddess made.
From thence, she says, life spins its purple thred,
And tells you how the half-form’d embryo’s fed.
But if my dear Apollo ben’t unkind,
Nor I in vain his sacred temples bind, 515
Such bloud nor form nor nourishment supplies,
And so that triumphs in false victories.
The many reasons here I need not tell
Which me induce, this one will serve as well:
Woman’s the onely animal we know 520
Whose veins with such immoderate courses flow.
Yet every beast produces young, we see,
And outdoes mankind in fertility.
How many do small mice at one time breed,
Scorning the product of the Trojan steed! 525
With what a bulk does yon fast el’phant come!
She seems to have a castle in her womb.
Thy circuits, Luna, conies almost tell
By kindling, near like thee their bellies swell.
And yet their young no bank of bloud maintains, 530
Or nourishment that flows from gaping veins.
For when i’ th’ amorous war a couple vies,
A living spark from the male body flies,
Which the wombs thrifty jaws, when they begin
To feel and tast, immediately suck in 535
Into recesses which so turn and wind
That them dissecters eyes can hardly find.
In the same chambers part o’ th’ female life
Keeps, a brisk virgin, fit to make a wife.
Them Venus joins, and with connubial love 540
In mingled flames they both begin to move.
There redness caus’d by motion you may see,
And bloud, the sign of lost virginity.
Of their invention, bloud, they’re mighty glad,
And to inventions easy ’tis to add. 545
The smallest spark ’tis easie to augment
If you can get it proper nutriment.
You need not introduce new flames besides,
Th’ elixir by this touch rich store provides.
All fires (provide them fuel) think it shame 550
To yield to Vesta’s never-dying flame.
Thus the first generous drop of bloud is bred,
Which proudly scorns hereafter to be fed.|
With the seeds native white at first ’tis fill’d,
And takes delight with its own stock to build. 555
But when that fails, then life grows burthensom,
And aid it wisely borrows from the womb.
Herself the stuff she borrows purifies,
And of a rosie, scarlet colour dyes.
From whom the wombs full paps with thirsty lips 560
Into its veiny mouths it daily sips.
Look, where a child’s new born, how soon it goes
And that food swallows, which of old it knows.
Kindly it plays and smiles upon the breasts,
O’rjoy’d again to find its former feast. 565
Shall Nature glut her tender young with blood?
No, that can’t be their elemental food.
That sure wou’d make them savage, were it so,
And all mankind fierce Cannibals wou’d grow.
I Nero’s acts cou’d hardly then dispraise, 570
Nor would Orestes fury wonder raise,
If mothers bloud for wretched infants first
By heav’n’s design’d to satisfy their thirst.
Yet still that fluxes cause we don’t reveal,
Which does so cautiously its spring conceal. 575
A female brute whate’r her womb contains
Cherishes, yet no moon dissolves her veins.
Some qual’ty then we for the cause must find
Which is peculiar to the female kind.
This is the onely thing which I can tell, 580
That Man in form and softness they excell.
No horse a mare outdoes, nor bull a cow,
If through this Io, through that Jove may low.
The lions savage are, both he and she,
And in their aspect equally agree. 585
The she’s no neater lick’d than rough he-bears,
Nor fitter to adorn the starry spheres.
She-tygers han’t than males more spotted charms,
And sows are clean as boars, whom thunder arms.
No painted bird for want of feathers scorns 590
Her mate, but heav’n them both alike adorns.
The swans (who are so downy, soft and white)
Leda can scarce distinguish by the sight.
In fishes you no difference can see,
Both in the glittering of their scales agree. 595
Venus in them, arm’d by their naked sex,
The darts of beauty needed not t’ annex.
In them no killing eyes the conquest gain,
Their small alone their triumphs can maintain.
But humane race in flames more bright are try’d, 600
By reason and resplendent heat supply’d.
Nor is fruition their original
(A paltry, short-liv’d joy). Oh! may they all
Perish, who that alone true pleasure call.
Kind Nature beauty has on maids bestow’d, 605
And with a thousand charms all o’r endow’d.
Men she with golden fetters chose to bind,
And with sweet force their roving souls confin’d.
Nor women made for bestial delight,
But with chast pleasure too to rape the sight. 610
Hence all that bloud, which after pressings sqeeze
Out of the grosser chyle, as dregs or lees,
And that, which on the body and the chin
With dusky clouds o’rcasts the hairy skin,
From their fair bodies constantly she drains, 615
And Luna her commission for’t obtains.
But if those slimly flouds by chance supprest,
Excessive heats to nutriment digest,
Manlike in time the womens chees become,
And they, poor Iphis, undergo thy doom. 620
So Phaethusa, once so smooth and fair,
Wonder’d to feel her face o’rgrown with hair.
Her hand she often blam’d, and for a glass
She call’d, to look how t’was. But there, alas!
A bearded chin and lips she found, and then, 625
Blaming the glass, felt with her hands agen.
Long-looking she her own strange visage fear’d,
And started when an unknown voice she heard.”
Thus and much more (but who can all relate?)
Apollo’s laurel did exspatiate. 630
Hence to the wonders of the teeming bed
They way itself their grave discourses led.
Then birth-wort, Juno’s plant, the court commands
To speak, who women lends her midwife hands.
Willing enough to talk, her stalk she rais’d, 635
And her own virtues very boldly prais’d.

BIRTH-WORT

Green berries I, and seed and flowers bear,
And patroness o’ th’ womb’s my character.
But deeper yet my great perfection lies,
For as my chiefest fruit my root I prize. 640
This nature did with the wombs figure seal,
Nor suffer’d me its virtues to conceal.
Thence am I call’d Earths Apple, such a one
As in th’ Hesperian gardens there are none.
Had this (fair Atalanta!) then been thrown 645
Before you, when you ran (I know you’ll own,
Now your are married), ’t has so sweet a face,
You for this sooner wou’d ha’ slack’d your pace,
Than that for which you lost your maiden race.
Hence in her own embraces Mother Earth 650
Retains and hugs it, where she gave it birth,
Nor trusts dull trees with things of so much worth.
Easing all births, ’tis I the wonder prove
O’ th’ earth our universal parents love.
That poet was no fool, nor did he lye, 655
Who said each herb cou’d shew a deity.
Nor shou’d we Egypts piety despise,
Which to green gods paid daily sacrifice.
Rome, why dost jeer? They are in gardens born,
And vegetable gods the fields adorn. 660
What’s Ceres else but corn, and Bacchus vines?
And every holy plain with godheads shines.
And I Lucina am, for I make way,
And life’s streight folding-doors wide open lay.
Oh! pardon, Luna! what I rashly spoke, 665
That from my lips such impious words have broke.
In me, in me, Lucina, you remain,
And in disguise a goddess I contain.
For in my roots small circle you inclose
Part of those virtues which your wisdom knows. 670
Triumphant conquests over death I make,
Arms from myself, but pow’r from thee I take.
O’rseer o’ th’ ways, the body’s roads I clear,
And streets, as I that cities aedile were.
Straight passages I widen, stops remove, 675
And every obstacle down headlong shove.
The soul and her attendants nothing stays,
But they may freely come and go their ways.
I also dry each sink and fenny flood,
Lest the swift messengers shou’d stick i’ th’ mud. 680
But to my stricter charge committed is
The pleasant, sacred way that leads to bliss.
When dawning life Cimmerian night wou’d leave,
And its relation, days bright rays, perceive,
I keep death off the wombs straight passages, 685
That them the watchful foe can ne’r possess.
You’d wonder (for great Nature she she shows
Her greatest wonders, nothing greater does),
Which way the narrow womb, so void of pain,
Such an unweildy weight cou’d e’r contain, 690
How such a bulk, forc’d from its native palace,
Through such a narrow avenue shou’d pass.
When such cross motions teeming wombs attain
First to dilate, then fold themselves again,
What knots unties and solid bones divides, 695
And what again unites the distant sides.
But this I cannot do, nor all the earth,
Wherever pow’rful plants receive their birth.
’Tis true, both I and you, my sisters, share
In this great, and humble handmaids are, 700
But God (you know) performs the chiefest part,
This work is fit for the almighty art.
He to the growing embryo bids the womb
Extend, and bids the limbs for that make room.
He parts the meeting rocks, and with his hand 705
They gently forth at open order stand.
Mean time th’ industrious infant, loth to stay,
Struggles and with his head wou’d make its way,
Whilst the tormented, labouring wretch wou’d fain
Be eas’d both of her burthen and her pain. 710
Them too my piercing heat both instigates,
And the inclining quarters separates.
Sometimes within his mothers fatal womb,
Before he’s born, the infant finds his tomb.
Life from her native soul deaths terrors chase, 715
Who fertile in herself in such a place.
Th’ included carcass breaths forth dire perfumes,
And its own grave the buried corps consumes.
Strange! the preposterous child’s his mothers death,
And dead deprives his living tomb of breath. 720
From that sad fate, ye gods, chast women guard,
And let it be adulteries reward.
As far as in me lies, I save the tree
And take the rotten away with me.
The goods to drown, ’tis the best way, I think, 725
Lest in a storm the ship and all shou’d sink.
Rash infants often make escapes, unbind
Their cords, and leave their luggage all behind.
Their thicker coats and thinner shirts they leave,
And that sweet cake where they their flood receive. 730
Lucina twice poor women then implore,
Their throws return although the birth be o’r.
Here to the womb again my aid I lend,
And hard as well as noisom work attend.
What I to cleanse the passage undergo 735
You wot not, but let no man, pray you, know.
For if he do, ’twill Cupid’s power impair,
Nor will he such an awe o’r mortals bear.
But though in me a secret virtue lie
Of pulling darts from deepest wounds, yet I 740
Thy pleasant darts, kind Cupid, never strove
To draw, that me no friend to th’ womb would prove.
In me one virtue I myself admire
(Ah! who can know themselves as they desire?)
For ’tis a riddle, wherefore I wou’d know 745
How I so oft have done the thing I do.
For though I life to humane creatures give,
Yet if he eats of me, no fish can live.
As soon as me they tast, away they fly
Under the water and in silence die. 750
What may the cause of this strange quarrel be?
I know them not, nor have they injur’d me.
No animals than these more fruitful prove,
When yet I hate, though fruitfulness I love.
Th’ effect is plain and easie to be found, 755
But deep the cause lies rooted under-ground.”

THE MASTICK-TREE

The Chian mastick thus began. Said she,
“This sutes not with this opportunity.
To fishes (sister) do whater’ you please,
Depopulate and poison all the seas. 760
This let that herb beware, who back again
Made Glaucus fishes bounce into the main,
Which with new forms the watery world supplies,
And changes men into sea-deities.
But these are trifles, since curs’d savin here 765
Dares in a throng of pious plants appear.
She who the altars of the womb prophanes,
And deep in bloud that living temple stains.
Impatient to be wicked, she destroys
The naked hopes of thousand future boys. 770
’Tis one of wars extream and greatest harms
To snatch an infant from his mothers arms.
But here the womb (oh strange!) close shut and barr’d,
The mothers very bowels are no guard,
Whilst poisons onely in a civil rage, 775
And lingring ills the step-dames hands engage.
Oh! simple Colchis, rude and ignorant,
Who the new arts of wickedness dost want!
Medea, savin knows a better way
Than thy Medea children to destroy. 780
Thou, Progne! know’st not how revenge to take,
Let Itys live, thy stay amends will make.
Lie with thy husband, though against thy will,
Let thy swell’d womb with hopes fierce Tereus fill.
When you are ripe for hate, let savin come, 785
And dress the fatal banquet in your womb.
The reeking bits let thy curst husband take,
And meat of thine and his own bowels make.
Abortion caus’d for spite’s a generous crime,
Th’ effect of pleasure at the present time. 790
Officious savin is at the expense
Of so much wit and so much diligence,
To make the lewdest whore most chaste appear,
That of her crimes no token she may wear.
To make her lechery frugal, and provide 795
That thy apartment, lust, ben’t made too wide.
The wrinkles from her belly to remove,
Which with disgrace may her a mother prove.
If men shou’d all conspire with such a plant,
The whole world soon inhabitants wou’d want. 800
You then the brutes alone in vain wou’d see,
And no employment for your art wou’d be.
But you, who scatch the rapid, wheeling days,
And fate beguile with art and sweet delays,
You, verdant constellations here below, 805
To whom their birth and fate all mortals owe,
Do you take care this tree-like hag to burn,
Who makes the womb the infants living urn.
Let Natures mortal foe receive her doom,
And with moist laurel purge the tainted room. 810
Or let her live in Crete, her native home,
And with her virtues purge Pasiphaes womb.
There two miscarriages she might ha’ made
At once. Oh! prize, now never to be had!
But I suppose she never wou’d ha’ torn, 815
Or kept that hopeful monster from being born.
For seven boys, whose death to her was dear,
That half-man was to swallow e’ry year.
Hast, savin! home to Crete. We won’t complain,
Though ditt’ny too with thee return again.” 820
At this they were divided, and the sound
Of various murmurs flew the court around.
Whilst sharp’ned leaves did savin’s anger show,
As when a lion bristles at his foe.
Those three degrees of heat which she before 825
From Nature had, her anger now made four.

SAVIN

“Thou wretched shrub (in passionate tones said she),
Dost thou pretend to be my enemy?
Dost thou a plant, which through the world is known,
Disparage? All mankind my virtues own, 830
Whilst thou for hollow teeth a med’cine art,
And scarcely bear’st in barbers shops a part,
Go, hang thy tables up, to shew thy vows,
And with thy trophies load thy bending bows.
Among the monuments of thy chivalry, 835
The greatest some old, rotten tooth will be.
What? cause thy tear stops weeping rheum, and lays
A damm which currents of defluxions stay,
Dost think thy force can keep the womb so tight
As to restrain conceptions liquid flight? 840
No, sure, but thou by cheats a name has sought,
And woud’st, though vile thou art, too dear be bought.
By false pretences you on fame impose,
But I the truth of what I am disclose.
Children, I own, I from the belly wrest. 845
Go now, of my confession make your best.
I own, I say, nor canst thou for thy heart
(Though thou more tender than the mother wert)
Prevent me with thy tears or all thy art.
Thee let the pregnant mother eat, and sense 850
With thee her womb. With pitch and frankincense,
A loadstone too about her let her bear
(That, I suppose, does thy great virtues wear).
For that, we know, fix’t to their native place
Retains the iron-seeds of humane race. 855
Let emeralds and coral her adorn,
And many jaspers, on her fingers worn,
With diamonds and pearl, child of a shell,
Whose fish herself and that secures so well.
But above all let her the eagles stone 860
Carry, and two of them, not onely one.
For nothing strengthens nature more than that,
Nothing the womb does more corroborate.
Let her do all, yet all shall prove in vain,
If once access to her my juices gain. 865
I own it, nor will I ungrateful be
To bounteous Nature, lest I anger thee,
Though thou hast done thy worst to anger me.
’Tis Natures gift, whose wisdom I esteem
Much more than thine, though thou a Cato seem. 870
Into the womb by stealth I never creep,
Nor force myself on women whilst they sleep.
I’d rather far, untouch’d, uncropt, be seen
In gardens always growing, fresh and green.
I’m gather’d, pounded, and th’ untimely blow 875
Must give, which I myself first undergo.
You justly blame Medea, but, for shame,
The guiltless knife the cut with do not blame.
The listening trees will think thee drunk with wine,
If you of drunkenness accuse the vine. 880
Nor this bare pow’r do I to heaven owe,
Which greater virtues did on me bestow.
For I the courses and the after-birth
With the dead members deadly weight bring forth.
Poor infants from their native gaol I free, 885
And with astonish’d eyes the sun they see.
But nothing can they find worth so much pain,
And wou’d return into the dark again.
They wish my fatal draught had come before,
Ere the great work of life was yet quite o’r. 890
That which you call a crime, I own to be,
But you must lay’t on men and not on me.
Ah! what at first wou’d tender infants give
(When newly form’d they scarce begin to live)
For this, if possibly they cou’d but know 895
Through what a passage they must after go?
Ah! why did heav’n (with reverence let me say)
Into this world make such a narrow way?
You’d think the child by’s pains to heav’n shou’d go,
Whilst he through pain’s born to a world of woe. 900
Through deadly strugglings he receives his breath,
And pangs i’ th’ birth resemble those of death.
Mothers the name of mothers dearly buy,
And purchase pleasure at a rate too high.
But thou, child-bearing woman, who no ease 905
Canst find (tormented with a dear disease),
Whose tortur’d bowels that sweet viper gnaws
(That living burthen of thy rack the cause),
Take but my leaves with speed, their virtue try
(In them, believe me, sovereign juices lie). 910
Thy barriers they by force soon open lay.
And out o’ th’ world ’tis scarce a wider way.
The infant, ripe, drops from the bows, and cries
The whilst his half-dead mother silent lies.
But hearing him she soon forgets her pain, 915
And thinks to do that pleasant trick again.
But thou, on whom the silver moons moist rays
(For the wombs night its Lady Moon obeys)
No influence have, I charge thee, do not take
My leaves, but hast, though loaded, from ’em make. 920
Down from the trees by my force shaken, all
The fruits, though ne’r so green and sour, fall
(This I fortel you, lest, when you’re aggriev’d,
You then shou’d say by me you were deceiv’d).
For innocent girls sin sore against their will, 925
None ever wish’d her womb a child might fill.
Yet if I were not in the world, they wou’d
Incline to do the fact, but never cou’d.
But many other plants the same can do,
Wherefore if banishment you think my due, 930
Companions in it I shall have, I know,
And into Creet a troop of us shall go.
Thou, myrrh! for one shalt go, who heretofore
For lewdness punish’d now deserv’st the more.
But thou, though lewd didst not prevent the birth, 935
Though ’twas a crime to bring the infant forth.
And all-heal too, who death affrights, must pack,
With galbanum and gum-ammoniack,
And benzoin to Cyrenians never sold,
Unless they brought the sweeter smell of gold. 940
Ground-pine and saffron too will exiles prove,
Saffron, once crocus, yellow dy’d by love.
Madder and colloquintida with me,
And dragon too the Cretan shore must see,
And sowbread too, whose secret darts are found 945
Child-bearning women distantly to wound.
And rue, as noble a plant as any’s here,
Physick to other things, is poison there.
What, shou’d I name the rest? We make a throng.
Thou, birthwort, too with must troop along. 950
Nor must you, President, behind us stay,
Rise then, and into exile come away.”
She ended, with great favour and applause,
And there’s no doubt but she obtain’d her cause.
The mugwort next began, whose awful face 955
Check’d all their stirs, and silence fill’d the place.

MUGWORT the President

“If the green nation, sister, banish thee,
I’ll go along and bear thee company.
If we for womens faults must bear disgrace,
We, the echolicks, are a wretched race. 960
On her head let it be (if a woman shall
To her own bowels prove inhumane) fall,
Nor part of deaths sad penalties, but all.
Why are we sent for at untimely hours?
That day when lucky Juno comes is ours. 965
She’s wicked and deserves the worst of fates,
Who to ill ends that time anticipates.
For the admitted juice knows no delay,
But, torpid as it, is will force its way.
Nor is it hard a fabrick to confound 970
Ill-fix’d within itself or to the ground.
A ship, well tackled, which the winds may scorn,
Ill rigg’d away by ev’ry gust is born.
The elements of life what can’t o’rthrow?
No wonder: life itself’s an empty show. 975
Sometimes it smells a candles snuff and dies,
The weaker fume before the stronger dies.
Let Caesar round the globe with’s eagles fly,
And grieve with Jove to share equality.
Yet what a trifle might ha’ been his death, 980
Preventing all his triumphs with his breath.
One farthing candle by its dying flame
Wou’d have deprived the world of his great name,
Nor had we had such numerous supplies
Of mighty lords and new-found deities. 985
Thou, Alexander, too might’st so ha’ dy’d
(How well the world that smell had gratifi’d),
Thou who, a petty king o’ th’ universe,
Thought’st with thy self alone thou didst converse.
Yea the same chance might have remov’d from us 990
Both thee, Jove’s son, and thy Bucephalus.
And if thy groom his candle out had slept,
Bucephala he from being built had kept.
So slight a stink you’d scarce think this could do,
Unless the niceness of the womb I knew. 995
How shie it is of an ungratefull smell
You, by its secret coyness, know full well
(But that’s no prudence in it, since that place
For pleasure no good situation has),
But greedily sweet things it meets half-way, 1000
And into its own bosom does convey.
The secret cause of which effect to find
Is hard, nor have the learned it assign’d.
Let’s see if anything farther we can say:
The night grows late, and now ’tis toward day. 1005
Wherefore a thousand wonders that remain
Concerning childbirth us may entertain
I’ th’ next assembly, when we meet again.
You, myrrh! who from a line of monarch came,
The glory of their angry fathers name, 1010
Sacred and grateful to the gods, again
A virgin, and shalt always so remain,
You know the secrets of the female kind,
And what you know, I hope, can call to mind.
Then surely you the nature of a smell 1015
Among rich odours born must clearly tell.
Besides, when formerly their reason strove,
Weak as it was, to cope with conquering love,
You in the middle of the fight wou’d fall,
They say, and lie in fits hysterical. 1020
Come then, let’s hear, what you at last can say.
Speak, modest myrrh! why do you so delay?
Why do the tears run down thy bark so fast?
Thou need’st not blush for faults so long time past.
Ah! happy faults, that can such tears produce, 1025
Which to the world are of such sovereign use.
No woman e’r deserv’d before this time
So much for virtue, as thou for a crime. ”

MYRRH

At last, when myrrh had wip’d her od’rous tears,
Putting aside her leaves, her face and shead she rears. 1030
Then she began, but blush’d and stopp’d anon,
Nor cou’d she be entreated to go on.
So dry a pump at first will hardly go,
From whence a river by and by will flow.
’Tis known the female tribe, of all that live, 1035
Above the rest is far more talkative,
And that plant who was a maid before
Speaks faster than all the rest, and more.
Her story therefore gently she begins,
And with her art upon the audience wins. 1040
Her wars with unchast love she reckon’d o’r,
For fear of doing ill, what ills she bore,
She told how ofter her breast her hands had try’d
To stab, whilst chast fair Myrrha might ha’ dy’d.
How long and oft unequally with love, 1045
Who even goddesses subdu’d, she strove,
And many things besides, which I’ll not name,
Since Ovid with more wit has said the same.
Then of the wombs intolerable pains
(Sh’ ad felt hem) sadly she’ tis said, complains. 1050
“Had I an hundred fluent womens tongues,
Or made of sturdy oak a pair of lungs,
The kinds and forms and names of cruel fate,
And monstrous shapes I hardly could relate.
What meant the gods lifes native seat to fill 1055
With such a numerous host, so arm’d to kill?
What is it, pleasure! guards Man’s happiness,
If thy chief city pain, thy foe, possess.
But me my laurel told, then most she rail’d
When the sad fits o’ th’ mother she bewail’d. 1060
Woe to the bodies wretched town (said she)
When the wombs fort contains the enemy!
Thence baneful vapours ev’ry way they throw,
Which rout the conquer’d soul where’r they go.
The troops of flying spirits they destroy, 1065
As stenches from Avernus birds annoy.
If they the stomach seize, the appetite’s gone,
And tasks design’d for veins lie by half done.
No meats it now endures, much less requires,
And the crude kitchin cools for want of fires. 1070
If they the heart invade, that’s walls they shake,
And in the vital work confusion make.
New waves they thither bring, but those the vein
Which vena cava’s called bears back again.
The arteries by weak pulsings notifie, 1075
Or else by none, the soul’s then passing by.
By that black cloud all joy’s extinguish’d quite,
And hopes, that make the mind look gay and bright.
So when grim Stygian shades, they say, appear,
The candles tremble and go out for fear. 1080
Grief, fear, and hatred of the light invade
Their heart, the soul a scene of trouble’s made.
Then straight the jaws themselves the torturning ill
With deadly, strangling vapours strives to fill.
T’ aethereal air it never shews desire, 1085
But salamander-like lives all on fire.
Sometimes these restless plagues the head too seize,
And rifle all the souls rich palaces.
In barbarous triumph led, then reasons stands
Hoodwink’d and mancled her eyes and hands. 1090
For the poor wretch a merry madness takes,
And her sad sides with doleful laughter shakes.
Her dreams (in vain awake) she tells, and those,
If nobody admire, amaz’d she shows.
She fears or threatens ev’ry thing she spies, 1095
A piteous, she, and dreadful object lies.
One seems to rave, and from her sparkling eyes
Fierce fire darts forth, another throbs and cries.
Some deaths exactest image seizes, so
That sleep compar’d to that like life wou’d show.
A solid dulness all the senses keeps 1100
Lock’d up, no soul of trees more soundly sleeps.
Her breath, if any from her nostrils go,
The down from poppy-tops wou’d hardly blow.
If you one dead with her compar’d, you’d say
Two dead ones there, or two hysterick lay. 1105
But then (’tis strange, and yet we must believe
What we from long experience receive)
Under her nose strong-smelling odours lay,
The other vapours these will chase away.
Burn partridge feathers, hair of man or beast, 1110
Horns, leather, warts that horses legs molest,
All these are good, but what strange accident
First found them out, or cou’d such cures invent?
Burn oil that Nature from hard rocks distills,
And sulphur, which all things with odours fills. 1115
To which the stinking assa you may add,
And oil which from the beavers stones is had.
Through pores, nerves, arteries, and all they go,
And throng t’invade the labouring womb below.
But that each avenue which upward lies 1120
With mounds and strong-built rampires fortifies.
Then, being contracted to a narrower place
(For force decays spread in too side a space)
No humours foul or vapours there must stay,
But out it purges them the lower way. 1125
On forein parts now no assaults she makes,
But care of her domestick safety takes.
Carthage to Hannibal now sends no supply
To break the force of distant Italy,
When from their walls with horror they descry 1130
The threatning Roman darts and eagles fly.
This for the nose, the womb then you must please
With such odours as the gods appease.
With cinnamon and goat-bread, ladanum,
With healing balsam and my oily gum, 1135
Civet and musk, and amber too apply
(Scarce yet well known to humane industry),
With all that my rich, native soil supplies,
Such fumes as from the Phoenix nest arise.
Nor fear from gods to take their frankincense, 1140
In such a pious case ’tis no offence.
Then shalt thou see the limbs faint motions make,
A certain sign that now the soul’s awake.
Then will the guts with an unusual noise,
The enemy o’rthrown, seem to rejoice. 1145
Bloud will below the secret passage stain,
Of arteries recruited beat again.
Oft, glad to see the light, themselves the eyes
Lift up, the face returning purple dies.
One jaw from t’ other with a groan retires, 1150
And the disease itself, like life, expires.
Tell me, sweet odours, tell me what have you
With parts so distant from the nose to do?
Or what have you, ill smells, so near the nose
To do, since that and you are mortal foes? 1155
And why dost thou, abominable stench!
Upon remote dominions so intrench?
Say by what secret force you sling your darts,
Whom from your bow, the nose, such distance parts.
For some believe that to the brain alone 1160
They fly, through ways which in the head are known,
And that the brain to the related womb
Sends (good and bad) all smells that to it come.
The womb too oft rejoyces for that’s sake,
And when that’s griev’d, does all its griefs partake. 1165
The womb’s Orestes, Pylades the brain,
And what to one, to th’ other is a pain.
I don’t deny the native sympathy
And like respects in which these parts agree.
Each its conception has, and each its birth, 1170
And both their off-springs, like the sire, come forth,
Still to produce both have a constant vein,
And their streight bosoms mighty things contain.
Much I omit in both, but know that this
O’ th’ body, that o’ th’ soul, the matrix is. 1175
But th’ womb has this one proper faculty,
Its actions oft from head and nose are free.
Oft when it strives to break its bonds in vain
(And often nought its fury can contain),
A sweet perfume apply’d (unknown to th’ nose) 1180
Does with a grateful glew its body close.
But when oppress’d with weight the womb falls down
(As sometimes it, when weak, does with its own),
With dreadful weapons arm’d a noisom smell
Meets it, and upward quickly does repel. 1185
So when th’ Helvetians their own land forsook
(People which in their neighbours terrour strook),
A stronger foe, their wandering to restrain,
To their old quarters beat ’em back again.
Here different reasons different authors show, 1190
But none worth speaking of, I’m sure you know.
What can I add? You, learned President, please
To bid me speake. The case says hold your peace,
Yet you I must obey. Heav’n is so kind
To let us seek that truth we cannot find. 1195
This truth must i’ th’ wells dark bottom sought.
Pardon me, if I make an heavy draught.
You see the wondrous wars and leagues of things,
From whence the worlds harmonious consort springs.
This he that thinks from th’ elements may be had 1200
Is a grave sot, and studiously mad.
Here many causes branch themselves around,
But to ’em all one onely root is found.
For those which mortals the four elements call
In the worlds fabrick are not first of all. 1205
Treasures in them wise Nature laid as store,
Ready at hand, of things that were before.
Whence she mighty principles draw for her use,
And mixtures new eternally produce.
Infinite seeds in those small bodies lie 1210
To us, but numbred by the deity.
Nor is the heat to fire more natural,
Nor coldness to waters share does fall,
Than either bitter, sweet, or white or black,
Or any smells that noses e’r attack. 1215
Our purging or astringent quality
Have proper points of matter where they lie.
With earth, air, water, fire, heav’n all things bore.
Why do I faintly speak? They were before.
For what earth, air, fire, water now we call 1220
Are compounds of the first original.
For — ” But a sudden fright her senses shock’d,
And stopt her speech. She heard the gate unlock’d,
And rue from far the gardener saw come in,
Trembling, as she an aspen-leaf had been 1225
(For rue, a sovereign plant to purge the eyes,
Remotest objects easily descries).
She softly whisper’d, “Hence make hast away.
Here’s Robert come, make hast, why do we stay?”
Day was not broken, but ’twas almost light, 1230
And Luna swiftly rowl’d the wheeling night.
Nor was the fellow us’d so soon to rise,
But him a sudden chance did then surprise.
His wife in pangs of child-bed loudly roar’d,
And gentle Juno’s present aid implor’d. 1235
But he who plants that in his garden grew,
Than forty Juno’s, of more value knew,
Came thither sowbread all in hast to gather,
That he with greater ease might prove a father.
Soon as they saw this man, straight up they got, 1240
With grentle hast and stood upon the spot,
When briefly mugwort, “I this court adjourn.
What we have left we’ll do at our return.”
Without tumultuous noise away they fled,
And every plant crept to her proper bed. 1245

Go to Book III