Yet there's none of these
Will make him master of what fowls he please.
Yea, he must pipe and whistle to
Yet, if he does so, that bird he will miss.
If that a pearl may in a toad's head dwell,
And may be found too in an oyster-shell;
If things that promise
nothing do contain
What better is than gold; who will disdain,
That have an inkling of it, there to look,
they may find it? Now, my little book,
(Though void of all these paintings that may make
It with this or the
other man to take),
Is not without those things that do excel
What do in brave but empty notions dwell.
`Well, yet I am not fully satisfied,
That this your book will stand, when soundly tried.'
Why, what's the matter?
`It is dark.' What though?
`But it is feigned.' What of that? I trow
Some men, by feigned words, as dark as
Make truth to spangle and its rays to shine.
`But they want solidness.' Speak, man, thy mind.
drown the weak; metaphors make us blind.'
Solidity, indeed, becomes the pen
Of him that writeth things divine to men;
But must I needs want solidness,
By metaphors I speak? Were not God's laws,
His gospel laws, in olden times held forth
shadows, and metaphors? Yet loath
Will any sober man be to find fault
With them, lest he be found for
The highest wisdom. No, he rather stoops,
And seeks to find out what by pins and loops,
calves and sheep, by heifers and by rams,
By birds and herbs, and by the blood of lambs,
to him; and happy is he
That finds the light and grace that in them be.
Be not too forward, therefore, to conclude
That I want solidnessthat I am rude;
All things solid in show
not solid be;
All things in parables despise not we;
Lest things most hurtful lightly we receive,
that good are, of our souls bereave.
My dark and cloudy words, they do but hold
The truth, as cabinets
enclose the gold.
The prophets used much by metaphors
To set forth truth; yea, who so considers
Christ, his apostles too,
shall plainly see,
That truths to this day in such mantles be.
Am I afraid to say, that holy writ,
Which for its style and phrase puts down all wit,
Is everywhere so full of
all these things
Dark figures, allegories? Yet there springs
From that same book that lustre, and those
Of light, that turn our darkest nights to days.
Come, let my carper to his life now look,
And find there darker lines than in my book
He findeth any; yea,
and let him know,
That in his best things there are worse lines too.
May we but stand before impartial men,
To his poor one I dare adventure ten,
That they will take my meaning
in these lines
Far better than his lies in silver shrines.
Come, truth, although in swaddling clouts, I find,
the judgment, rectifies the mind;
Pleases the understanding, makes the will
Submit; the memory too it doth
With what doth our imaginations please;
Likewise it tends our troubles to appease.
Sound words, I know, Timothy is to use,
And old wives' fables he is to refuse;
But yet grave Paul him nowhere
The use of parables; in which lay hid
That gold, those pearls, and precious stones that were
digging for, and that with greatest care.
Let me add one word more. O man of God,
Art thou offended? Dost thou wish I had
Put forth my matter
in another dress?
Or, that I had in things been more express?
Three things let me propound; then I submit
those that are my betters, as is fit.
1. I find not that I am denied the use
Of this my method, so I no abuse
Put on the words, things, readers; or
In handling figure or similitude,
In application; but, all that I may,
Seek the advance of truth this
or that way
Denied, did I say? Nay, I have leave
(Example too, and that from them that have
pleased, by their words or ways,
Than any man that breatheth now-a-days)
Thus to express my mind,
thus to declare
Things unto thee that excellentest are.