Experience and PhilosophyBack to English alchemical verse .
EXPERIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY.Have you not heard yee Princes great, you Lords & Ladies all,
Of the mishap and heavy chaunce that now of late did fall?
A wofull Tale to tell
Who could expresse it well:
Oh that some learned Poet had byne
With me, to se that I have sene:
Or else some other standing by,
That well could write a Tragidy
Of lasting fame and memory.
For yet not since this World began,
Such cry, such clamour as was than
Heard never any earthly Man.
Experience that Princesse greate, I saw her in her Throne
Of glory, where her Majesty delightes to sitt upon;
And on her wayting by
A blessed Company
Of Virgins pure, that as I gesse,
Were Children to that great Goddesse:
Their Princely port, their Comly grace,
Their pierles featur'd hand and face
Did schew them of Noble race:
But of their prudent skill to tell,
In Artes where in they did excell,
No earthly Toungue can do it well.
And as I gazed thus upon that strange and dreadfull sight,
I saw how that Experience did teach these Ladies right,
The Seven Artes Divine,
With desent discipline,
By divers rules and orders grave,
As she thought good for them to have.
But for to see how diligent
And buisily their time they spent
To learne those Artes most excellent,
The endlesse travells that they tooke
From place to place, from booke to booke,
Amazed me on them to looke.
For some in divers Languages did reason dispute,
And others some did sing and play on Organ, Harpe and Flute;
And some with Compasses found
All Measures square and round:
And some by Cyphering could tell
Infinite Summes and Numbers well:
And somes with Eloquence began
As Poets and Orators to scan
The Causes between Man and Man:
And some upon the Stars did gaze,
And other some sat in a Maze,
To judge of Seacrets that there was.
Soe that nothing created was under the Firmament,
That hath a Being or Life by any Element,
No Simple nor Compound
In all the World is found
Under the Sky, or Clouds that fly,
But they sought out the privity:
This Rocky Earth, this heavy Masse,
This Articke Virgin, this let not passe
To seeke the thing that therein was:
But put themselves in presse to creepe
Into the Center of the Deepe,
Where sundry Soules and Spirits doe sleepe.
This thing Experience gan prudently to debate,
With cheerfull looke and voyce full mylde, as it seemed to her state,
And soone decreed she
Of her benignity:
Not for their sundry paines I take,
But only for her Glory sake,
That all these ladies in a row
Should further of her Secrets know,
That from her Majesty did grow;
Wherewith to Councell called shee
A Lady grave of greate degree,
That named was Philosophy.
And after their discourse and talke, that Lady fell downe flatt
On hands & knees before the Queene in heaven where she satt.
And looking upon her face
Did say unto her grace:
Blessed be thou Experience,
Full mighty is thou Influence;
Thy wondrous workes records full well
In wordell of wordels where thou doest dwell,
In Earth, in Heaven, and in Hell;
That thou art now the very same,
That of Nothing All things did frame,
Wherefor now blessed be thy Name.
Wherewith the Heavens opened, and fiery flames did fall
Downe from the Throne of endles Joy and feate imperiall,
Where Angels infinite
Like glistering Starrs did fitt:
So pure and simple was the Light,
As all the World had burnt bright;
The flames and floods began to roare,
And did present their hidden store,
Of Spirits that sing for evermore,
All glory and magnificence,
All humble thankes and reverence
Be given to E X P E R I E N C E.
Then sylence fell upon the face of Heaven Christalline
Where all the Powers mustered full ready to encline;
To that most Sapient,
The high Omnipotent:
That said be it, and it was don,
Our Earth, Our Heaven were begun;
I am said it the most of might,
In worde of lyfe and eke in light.
I am Mercy and Judgement right,
The Depth is myne so is the Hight:
The Cold, the Hot, the Moyst, the Dry,
Where All in All is there am I.
What thing can tell when I began, or when I make an end?
Wherewith I wrought, and what I mought, or what I did intend?
To doe when I had done
The worke I had begun.
For when my Being was alone
One thing I made when there was none,
A Masse confused darkly clad
That in it selfe all Nature had
To form and shape the good and bad;
And then as Tyme began to fall,
It pleased me the same to call
The first Matter, Mother of all.
And from that Lumpe divided I foure sundry Elements,
Whom I commanded for to raigne in divers Regiments:
In Kinde they did agree,
But not in Quality.
Whose simple Substance I did take,
My seate invisible to make:
And of the Qualities compound,
I made the Starry Sky so round
With living Bodyes on the ground;
And blessed them infinitely,
With lyfe and long prosperity,
And bad them grow and Multiply.
Respecting these divided things so created by me,
Their light and lively spreading forth of them in their degree;
Retourning to the Masse,
Where there begining was,
And saw the refuse of the same,
How Voyd and Empty it became,
All darke, and nothing to remaine,
I put with wrath and great disdaine,
My only Curse therefor was no raygne;
For I the Author of all Light
Did banish Darkness from my sight,
And blessed all things that shined bright,
So that I mard nothing I made, for that which I made is still,
And so schalbe unto the end, only to worke my will:
One thing was first imployd,
And shall not be destroid,
It compasseth the World so round,
A Matter easy to be found:
And yet most hardest to come by:
A Secret of Secrets pardye,
That is most vile and least set by,
And it my Love and my Darling,
Conceived with all living thing,
And travells to the Worlds ending.
What neede have I of mans Devise of Peny or of Pound,
Of Gold or Silver, Lead or Tynn or Copper in the ground,
Iron or Silver Quick,
Whereat the blind to prick;
Of Cankered Corosives that rust,
By Salts and sulphurs all to dust?
Seeke out therefore my darling deare;
For unto me it is most neere,
My spouse my Love and my Compeare:
And unto it looke thou direct
My seaven Children long elect,
That all things else they might reject.
A Child begetting his owne Father, and bearing his Mother,
Killing himselfe to give lyfe, and light to all other:
Is yt that I do meane,
Most myld and most extreame.
Did not the Word that dwelt in me
Take forme and walked visibly;
And did not I then dwell in it,
That dwelt in me for to unite
Three powers in one seate to sit?
And the Experience did say
Now knowest thou all, heers lyes the Key,
And then she vanisht cleane away.
There with arose Phylosophy as one filled with grace,
Whose looks did shew that she had byne in some Heavenly place:
For oft she wipt her Eyes,
And oft she bowd her knees.
And oft she kist the Steps with dread,
Whereon Experience did tread;
And oft she cast he Head on high
And oft full low she cast her Eye
Experience for to espy:
But when she saw that she was gon,
And that her selfe was left alone:
I never hread thing make such mone.
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