Wise emblem of our politick world,
Sage Snayl, within thine own self curl’d,
Instruct me softly to make hast,
Whilst these my feet go slowly fast.
Compendious Snayl! thou seem’st to me
Large Euclid’s strict epitome;
And in each diagram dost fling
Thee from the point unto the ring.
A figure now trianglare,
An oval now, and now a square,
And then a serpentine, dost crawl,
Now a straight line, now crook’d, now all.
Preventing rival of the day,
Th’ art up and openest thy ray;
And ere the morn cradles the moon,
Th’ art broke into a beauteous noon.
Then, when the Sun sups in the deep,
Thy silver horns e’re Cinthia’s peep;
And thou, from thine own liquid bed,
New Phoebus, heav’st thy pleasant head.
Who shall a name for thee create,
Deep riddle of mysterious state?
Bold Nature, that gives common birth
To all products of seas and earth,
Of thee, as earth-quakes, is afraid,
Nor will thy dire deliv’ry aid.
Thou, thine own daughter, then, and sire,
That son and mother art intire,
That big still with thy self dost go,
And liv’st an aged embrio;
That like the cubbs of India,
Thou from thy self a while dost play;
But frighted with a dog or gun,
In thine own belly thou dost run,
And as thy house was thine own womb,
So thine own womb concludes thy tomb.
But now I must (analys’d king)
Thy oeconomick virtues sing;
Thou great stay’d husband still within,
Thou thee that’s thine dost discipline;
And when thou art to progress bent,
Thou mov’st thy self and tenement,
As warlike Scythians travayl’d, you
Remove your men and city too;
Then, after a sad dearth and rain,
Thou scatterest thy silver train;
And when the trees grow nak’d and old,
Thou cloathest them with cloth of gold,
Which from thy bowels thou dost spin,
And draw from the rich mines within.
Now hast thou chang’d thee, saint, and made
Thy self a fane that’s cupula’d;
And in thy wreathed cloister thou
Walkest thine own gray fryer too;
Strickt and lock’d up, th’art hood all ore,
And ne’r eliminat’st thy dore.
On sallads thou dost feed severe,
And ‘stead of beads thou drop’st a tear,
And when to rest each calls the bell,
Thou sleep’st within thy marble cell,
Where, in dark contemplation plac’d,
The sweets of Nature thou dost tast,
Who now with time thy days resolve,
And in a jelly thee dissolve,
Like a shot star, which doth repair
Upward, and rarifie the air.
Richard Lovelace (1618–1657)