Friday, March 26, 2010

Sir Epicure Mammon, Jonson's Alchemist

I have a piece of Jason's fleece too,
Which was no other than a book of alchemy,
Writ in large sheepskin, a good fat ram vellum.

Such was Pythagoras' thigh, Pandora's tub,
And all that fable of Medea's charms
The manner of our work: the bulls, our furnace,

Still breathing fire; our argent-vive, the dragon;
The dragon's teeth, mercury sublimate,
That keeps the whiteness, hardness, and the biting;

And they are gathered into Jason's helm,
Th'alembic, and then sowed in Mars his field,
And thence sublimed so often, till they are fixed

Both this th' Hesperian garden, Cadmus' story,
Jove's shower, the boon of Midas, Argus' eyes,
Boccace his Demogorgon, thousands more,
All abstract riddles of our stone --How Now!