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So might the heire, whose father hath in play

Wasted a thousand pound of auncient rent, By painefull earning of one grote a day,

Hope to restore the patrimonie spent. The wits that div'd most deepe and soar'd most hie,

Seeking man's pow’rs, haue found his weaknes Skill comes so slow, and life so fast doth flie;

We learne so litle, and forget so much : For this the wisest of all morall men Said, he knew nought, but that he nought did

Inow; And the great mocking maister mockt not then,

When he said, Truth was buried deepe below. For how may we to other things attaine,

When none of vs his own soule vnderstands? For which the diuell mockes our ous braine,

When, Know thyselfe, his oracle commands. For why should we the busie soule beleeue,

When boldly she concludes of that and this, When of herselfe she can no iudgment geue, Nor how, nor whence, nor where, nor what she

is ? All things without, which round about we see,

We seeke to know, and how therewith to do: But that whereby we reason, liue, and be,

Within ourselves, we strangers are thereto. We seeke to know the mouing of each spheare, And the straunge cause of th' ebbs and flouds

of Nile; But of that clocke within our breasts we beare,

The subtill motions we forget the while. We that acquaint ourselues with euery zoane,

And pass both tropikes, and behold both poles,

When we come home, are to ourselues vnknowne,

And ynacquainted still with our own soules. We studie speech, but others we perswade;

We leech-craft learne, but others cure with it; We interpret lawes which other men haue made,

But reade not those which in our harts are writ. It is because the minde is like the eye,

Through which it gathers knowledge by degrees; Whose rayes reflect not, but spread outwardly;

Not seeing itselfe, when other things it sees. No, doubtlesse : for the minde can backward cast

Vpon herself her vnderstanding light; But she is so corrupt, and so defac't,

And her owne image doth herselfe affright: As is the fable of the ladie faire,

Which for her lust was turn'd into a cow; When thirstie to a streame she did repaire,

And saw herselfe transform’d, she wist not how, At first she startles, then she stands amaz'd;

At last with terror she from thence doth flie, And loathes the watrie glasse wherein she gaz'd,

And shunnes it still, though she for thirst do die. Euen so man's soule, which did God's image

beare, And was at first faire, good, and spotlesse

pure, Since with her sinnes her beauties blotted were,

Doth of all sights her owne sight least endure: For euen at first reflection she espies Such strange chymeras, and such monsters

there, Such toyes, such antikes, and such vanities,

As she retires and shrinkes for shame and feare.

And as the man loues least at home to bee,
That hath a sluttish house, haunted with

sprites; So she, impatient her owne faults to see, Turnes from herselfe, and in strange things

delites. For this, few know themselues: for merchants

broke View their estate with discontent and paine; And seas are troubled, when they doe reuoke

Their flowing waues into themselues againe. And while the face of outward things we find

Pleasing and faire, agreeable and sweete, These things transport, and carrie out the mind,

That with herselfe herselfe can neuer meete. Yet if Affliction once her warres begin, And threat the feeble Sense with sword and

fire, The minde contracts herselfe, and shrinketh in,

And to herselfe she gladly doth retire; As spiders toucht seeke their web's inmost part;

As bees in stormes vnto their hiues returne; As bloud in danger gathers to the hart; As men seek towns, when foes the country

burne. If ought can teach vs ought, Affliction's lookes,

Making vs looke vnto ourselues so neare, Teach vs to know ourselues beyond all bookes,

Or all the learned schooles that euer were. This mistresse lately pluckt me by the eare,

And many a golden lesson hath me taught ; Hath made my senses quicke, and reason cleare, Reformd


will, and rectifide my thought.

So do the winds and thunder cleanse the ayre;

So working leas settle and purge the wine; So lopt and pruned trees doe forish faire ;

So doth the fire the drossie gold refine. Neither Minerua, nor the learned Muse,

Nor rules of art, nor precepts of the wise, Could in my braine those beames of skill enfuse,

As but the glaunce of this dame's angrie eyes. Shee within listes my raunging mind hath

brought, That now beyond myselfe I will not go : Myselfe am center of my circling thought,

Onely myselfe I studie, learne, and know. I know my body's of so fraile a kinde,

As force without, feauers within can kill : I know the heauenly nature of my minde,

But 'tis corrupted both in wit and will. I know my soule hath power to know all things,

Yet is she blinde and ignorant in all : I know I am one of Nature's litle kings,

Yet to the least and vilest things am thrall. I know my life's a paine, and but a span;

I know my sense is mockt with euery thing ; And, to conclude, I know myselfe a man,

Which is a proud, and yet a wretched thing.




I. When as man's life, the light of humane lust, In soacket of his early lanthorne burnes, That all this glory vnto ashes must, And generations to corruption turnes ;

Then fond desires, that onely feare their end,

Doe vainely wish for life but to amend. But when this life is from the body fled, To see itselfe in that eternall glasse, Where time doth end, and thoughts accuse the

dead, Where all to come is one with all that was;

Then liuing men aske how he left his breath, That while he liued never thought of death!

11, Man, dreame no more of curious mysteries, And what was here before the world was made ; The first man's life, the state of Paradise, Where heauen is, or hell's eternal shade:

For God's works are, like him, all infinite,

And curious search but craftie sinnes delight. The flood that did, and dreadfull fire that shall, Drowne and burne vp the malice of the earth, The diuers tongues and Babylon's downefall, Are nothing to the man's renewed birth :

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