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I know my body's of so frail a kind,
As force without, fevers within can kill;
I know the heavenly nature of my mind,
But 'tis corrupted both in wit and will.

I know my soul hath power to know all things,
Yet is she blind and ignorant in all;
I know I'm one of nature's little kings,
Yet to the least and vilest things am. thrall.

I know my life's a pain, and but a span;
I know my sense is mock'd in every thing:
And, to conclude, I know myself a man,
Which is a proud and yet a wretched thing.

We seek to know the moving of each sphere,
And the strange cause of th' ebbs and floods of Nile;
But of that clock within our breasts we bear,
The subtle motions we forget the while.

For this few know themselves; for merchants broke:
View their estate with discontent and pain;
And as the seas troubl’d, when they do revoke
Their flowing waves into themselves again.

And while the face of outward things we find
Pleasing and fair, agreeable and sweet,
These things transport and carry out the mind,
That with herself the mind can never meet.

Yet if affliction once her wars begin,
And threat the feebler sense with sword and fire,
The mind contracts herself and shrinketh in,
And to herself she gladly doth retire.



ARE they not senseless, then, that think the soul
Nought but a fine perfection of the sense,
Or of the forms which fancy doth enrol,
A quick resulting and a consequence?

What is it, then, that doth the sense accuse
Both of false judgments and fond appetites ?
What makes us do what sense doth most refuse,
Which oft in torment of the sense delights?

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Could any pow'rs of sense the Roman move,
To burn his own right hand with courage stout?
Could sense make Marius sit unbound, and prove
The cruel lancing of the knotty gout?

Sense outsides knows-the soul through all things

sees; Sense, circumstance; she doth the substance view : Sense sees the bark, but she the life of trees; Sense hears the sounds, but she the concord true.

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Then is the soul a nature which contains
The power of sense within a greater power,
Which doth employ and use the sense's pains,
But sits and rules within her private bower.



If she doth, then, the subtle sense excel,
How gross are they that drown her in the blood,
Or in the body's humours temper'd well ?
As if in them such high perfection stood.

As if most skill in that musician were,
Which had the best, and best tun'd, instrument;,
As if the pencil neat, and colours clear,
Had pow'r to make the painter excellent.

Why doth not beauty, then, refine the wit,
And good complexion rectify the will?
Why doth not health bring wisdom still with it?
Why doth not sickness make men brutish still?

Who can in memory, or wit, or will,
Or air, or fire, or earth, or water, find;
What alchymist can draw, with all his skill,
The quintessences of these from out the mind ?

If th' elements, which have nor life nor sense,
Can breed in us so great a power as this,

Why give they not themselves like excellence,
Or other things wherein their mixture is ?

If she were but the body's quality,
Then we should be with it sick, maim'd, and blind;
But we perceive, where these privations be,
An healthy, perfect, and sharp-sighted mind.




But how shall we this union well express ?
Nought lies the soul, her subtlety is such,
She moves the body which she doth possess,
Yet no part toucheth, but by virtue's touch.

Then dwells she not therein as in a tent,
Nor as a pilot in his ship doth sit,
Nor as the spider in his web is pent,
Nor as the wax retains the print in it.

Nor as a vessel water doth contain,
Nor as one liquor in another shed,
Nor as the heat doth in the fire remain,
Nor as the voice throughout the air is spread;

But as the fair and cheerful morning light
Doth here and there her silver beams impart,
And in an instant doth herself unite
To the transparent air, in all and every parte


So doth the piercing soul the body fill,
Being all in all, and all in part diffus'd;
Indivisible, incòrruptible still,
Nor forc'd, encounter'd, troubled, nor confus'd.

And as the sun above the light doth bring,
Though we behold it in the air below,
So from the Eternal light the soul doth spring,
Though in the body she her powers do shew,


AGAIN, how can she but immortal be,
When, with the motions of both will and wit,
She still aspireth to eternity,
And never rests till she attain to it?


All moving things to other things do move
Of the same kind, which shews their nature such ;
So earth falls down, and fire doth mount above,
Till both their proper elements do touch.

And as the moisture which the thirsty earth
Sucks from the sea to fill her empty veins,
From out her womb at last doth take a birth,
And runs a lymph along the grassy plains.


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