Poems, and fancies written by the Right Honourable, the Lady Margaret Newcastle.
Newcastle, Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of, 1624?-1674.
A Dialogue between an Oake, and a Man cutting him downe.
WHY cut you off my Bowes, both large, and long,
That keepe you from the heat, and scortching Sun〈◊〉
And did refresh your 〈◊〉 Limbs from sweat?
From thundring Raines I keepe you free, from Wet;
When on my Barke your weary head would lay,
Where quiet sleepe did take all Cares away.
The whilst my Leaves a gentle noise did make,
And blew coole Winds, that you 〈◊〉 Aire night take.
Besides, I did invite the Birds to sing,
That their sweet voice might you some pleasure bring.
Where every one did strive to do their best,
Oft chang'd their Notes, and strain'd their tender Breast.
In Winter time, my Shoulders broad did hold
Off blustring Stormes, that wounded with sharpe Cold.
And on my Head the 〈◊〉 of snow did fall,
Whilst you under my Bowes〈◊〉 free from all.
And will you thus requite my Love, Good Will,
To take away my Life, and 〈◊〉 kill?
Page 67 For all my Care, and Service I have past,
Must I be cut, and laid on Fire at last?
And thus true Love you cruelly have slaine,
Invent alwaies to torture me with paine.
First you do peele my Barke, and flay my Skinne,
Hew downe my Boughes, so chops off every Limb.
With Wedges you do peirce my Sides to wound,
And with your Hatchet knock me to the ground.
I mine'd shall be in Chips and peeces small,
And thus doth Man reward good Deeds withall.
Why grumblest thou, old Oake, when thou hast stood
This hundred yeares, as King of all the Wood.
Would you for ever live, and not resigne
Your Place to one that is of your owne Line?
Your Acornes young, when they grow big, and tall,
Long for your Crowne, and wish to see your fall;
Thinke every minute lost, whilst you do live,
And grumble at each Office you do give.
Ambitien flieth high, and is above
All sorts of Friend-ship strong, or Natur all Love.
Besides, all Subjects they in Change delight,
When Kings grow Old, their Government they slight:
Although in ease, and peace, and wealth do live,
Yet all those happy times for Change will give.
Growes discontent, and Factions still do make;
What Good so ere he doth, as Evill take.
Were he as wise, as ever Nature made,
As pious, good, as ever Heaven〈◊〉:
Yet when they dye, such Joy is in their Face,
As if the Devill had gone from that place.
With Shouts of Joy they run a new to Crowne,
Although next day they strive to pull him downe.
Why, said the Oake, because that they are mad,
Shall I rejoyce, for my owne Death be glad?
Because my Subjects all ingratefull are,
Shall I therefore my health, and life impaire.
Good Kings governe justly, as they ought,
Examines not their Humours, but their Fault.
For when their Crimes appeare, t'is time to strike,
Not to examine Thoughts how they do like.
Page 68 If Kings are never lov'd, till they do dye,
Nor 〈◊〉 to live, till in the Grave they lye:
Yet he that loves himselfe the lesse, because
He cannot get every mans high applause:
Shall by my Judgment be condemn'd to weare,
The Asses Eares, and burdens for to beare.
But let me live the Life that Nature gave,
And not to please my Subjects, dig my Grave.
But here, Poore Oake, thou liv'st in Ignorance,
And never seek'st thy Knowledge to advance.
I'le cut the downe, 'cause Knowledge thou maist gaine,
Shalt be a Ship, to traffick on the Maine:
There shalt thou swim, and cut the Seas in two,
And trample downe each Wave, as thou dost go.
Though they rise high, and big are sweld with pride,
Thou on their Shoulders broad, and Back, shalt ride:
Their lofty Heads shalt bowe, and make them stoop,
And on their Necks shalt set thy steddy Foot:
And on their Breast thy Stately Ship shalt beare,
Till thy Sharpe Keele the watry Wombe doth teare.
Thus shalt thou round the World, new Land to find,
That from the rest is of another kind.
O, said the Oake, I am contented well,
Without that Knowledge, in my Wood to dwell.
For I had rather live, and simple be,
Then dangers run, some new strange Sight to see.
Perchance my Ship against a Rack may hit;
Then were I strait in sundry peeces split.
Besides, no rest, nor quiet I should have,
The Winds would tosse me on each troubled Wave.
The Billowes rough will beat on every side,
My Breast will ake to swim against the Tide.
And greedy Merchants may me over-fraight,
So should I drowned be with my owne weight.
Besides with Sailes, and Rapes my Body tye,
Just like a Prisoner, have no Liberty.
And being alwaies wet, shall take such Colds,
My Ship may get a Pase, and leake through holes.
Which they to mend, will put me to great paine,
Besides, all patch'd, and peec'd, I shall remaine.
Page 69I care not for that Wealth, wherein the paines,
And trouble, is farre greater then the Gaines.
I am contented with what Nature gave,
I not Repine, but one poore wish would have,
Which is, that you my aged Life would save.
To build a Stately House I'le cut thee downe,
Wherein shall Princes live of great renowne.
There shalt thou live with the best Companie,
All their delight, and pastime thou shalt see.
Where Playes, and Masques, and Beauties bright will shine,
Thy Wood all oyl'd with Smoake of Meat, and Wine.
There thou shalt heare both Men, and Women sing,
Farre pleasanter then Nightingals in Spring.
Like to a Ball, their Ecchoes shall rebound
Against the Wall, yet can no Voice be found.
Alas, what Musick shall I care to heare,
When on my Shoulders I such burthens beare?
Both Brick, and Tiles, upon my Head are laid,
Of this Preferment I am sore afraid.
And many times with Nailes, and Hammers strong,
They peirce my Sides, to hang their Pictures on.
My Face is sinucht with Smoake of Candle Lights,
In danger to be burnt in Winter Nights.
No, let me here a poore Old Oake still grow;
I care not for these vaine Delights to know.
For fruitlesse Promises I do not care,
More Honour tis, my owne green Leaves to beare.
More Honour tis, to be in Natures dresse,
Then any Shape, that Men by Art expresse.
I am not like to Man, would Praises have,
And for Opinion make my selfe a Slave.
Why do you wish to live, and not to dye,
Since you no Pleasure have, but Misery?
For here you stand against the scorching Sun:
By's Fiery Beames, your fresh green Leaves become
Wither'd; with Winter's cold you quake, and shake:
Thus in no time, or season, rest can take.
Yet I am happier, said the Oake, then Man;
With my condition I contented am.
Page 70He nothing loves, but what he cannot get,
And soon doth surfet of one dish of meat:
Dislikes all Company, displeas'd alone,
Makes Griese himselfe, if Fortune gives him none.
And as his Mind is restlesse, never pleas'd;
So is his Body sick, and oft diseas'd.
His Gouts, and Paines, do make him sigh, and cry,
Yet in the midst of Paines would live, not dye.
Alas, poore Oake, thou understandst, nor can
Imagine halfe the misery of Man.
All other Creatures onely in Sense joyne,
But Man hath something more, which is divine.
He hath a Mind, doth to the Heavens aspire,
A Curiosity for to inquire:
A Wit that nimble is, which runs about
In every Corner, to seeke Nature out.
For She doth hide her selfe, as fear'd to shew
Man all her workes, least he too powerfull grow.
Like to a King, his Favourite makes so great,
That at the last, he feares his Power hee'll get.
And what creates desire in Mans Breast,
A Nature is divine, which seekes the best:
And never can be satisfied, unt ill
He, like a God, doth in Perfection dwell.
If you, as Man, desire like Gods to bee,
I'le spare your Life, and not cut downe your Tree.