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And as the man loves least at home to be,
That hath a sluttish house haunted with sprites; So she, impatient her own faults to see,
Turns from herself, and in strange things delights.
For this few know themselves: for merchants broke
View their estate with discontent and pain, And seas are troubled, 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,
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:
As spiders touch'd, seek their web's inmost part;
As bees in storms back to their hives return; As blood in danger gathers to the heart;
As men seek towns, when foes the country burn.
If aught can teach us aught, Affliction's looks,
(Making us pry into ourselves so near) Teach us to know ourselves beyond all books,
Or all the learned schools that ever were.
This mistress lately pluck'd me by the ear,
And many a golden lesson hath me taught; Hath made my senses quick, and reason clear;
Reform’d my will, and rectify'd my thought.
So do the winds and thunders cleanse the air :
So working seas settle and purge the wine : So lopp'd and pruned trees do flourish fair :
So doth the fire the drossy gold refine.
Neither Minerva, nor the learned Muse,
Nor rules of art, nor precepts of the wise, Could in my brain those beams of skill infuse,
As but the glance of this dame's angry eyes.
She within lists my ranging mind hath brought,
That now beyond myself I will not go; Myself am centre of my circling thought,
Only myself I study, learn, and know.
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 :
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.
The lights of Heav'n (which are the world's fair eyes)
Look down into the world, the world to see; And as they turn, or wander in the skies,
Survey all things, that on this centre be.
And yet the lights which in my tow'r do shine,
Mine eyes which view all objects nigh and far, Look not into this little world of mine,
Nor see my face, wherein they fixed are.
Since Nature fails us in no needful thing,
Why want I means my inward self to see? Which sight the knowledge of myself might bring,
Which to true wisdom is the first degree.
That pow'r which gave me eyes the world to view,
To view myself, infus’d an inward light,
Of her own form may take a perfect sight.
But as the sharpest eye discerneth nought,
Except the sun-beams in the air do shine : So the best soul, with her reflecting thought,
Sees not herself without some light divine.
O Light, which mak'st the light, which mak'st the
day! Which set'st the eye without, and mind within ; ’Lighten my spirit with one clear heavenly ray,
Which now to view itself doth first begin.
For her true form how can my spark discern,
Which, dim by nature, art did never clear? When the great wits, of whom all skill we learn,
Are ignorant both what she is, and where.
One thinks the soul is air; another, fire;
Another, blood diffus'd about the heart ; Another saith, the elements conspire,
And to her essence each doth give a part.
Musicians think our souls are harmonies,
Physicians hold that they complexions be; Epicures make them swarms of atomies,
Which do by chance into our bodies flee.
Some think one gen’ral soul fills ev'ry brain,
As the bright Sun sheds light in every star; And others think the name of soul is vain,
And that we only well-mix'd bodies are.
In judgment of her substance thus they vary,
And thus they vary in judgment of her seat;