Cantilena - George Ripley's Song.

Behold ! and in this Cantilena see
The hidden secrets of Philosophy :
What Joy ariseth from the Merry veines
Of Minds Elated by such dulcid Straines !

Through Roman Countreys as I once did passe
Where Mercuries Nuptiall Celebrated was,
And feeding stoutly (on the Bride-Groomes score)
I learn'd these Novelties unknowne before.

There was a certaine Barren King by Birth,
Composed of the Purest, Noblest Earth,
By Nature Sanguine (which is faire) yet hee
Sadly bewailed his Authoritie.

Wherefore am I a King, and Head of all
Those Men and things that be Corporeall ?
I have no issue, yet (I'le not deny)
Tis Mee both Heaven and Earth are Ruled by.

Yet there is either a Cause Naturall
Or some Defect in the Originall:
For though the Wombe I never opened
I under Titan's wings was nourished.

Each vegative which from the Earth proceeds
Ariseth up with its own proper Seeds :
And Animalls (at Seasons) speciously
Abound with Fruit, and strangly Multiply.

But yet my Nature is so much Restrain'd
No Tincture from my Body can be gain'd :
And therefore it is Infoecund : nor can
It ought availe, in Generating Man.

My Body's Masse is of a Lasting-Stuffe,
Exceeding Delicate, yet hard enough :
And when the Fire Assays to try my Sprite,
I am not found to weigh a grain too light.

My Mother got me of a Sphaere, that I
Might contemplate the Globes Rotunditie ;
And be more Pure of kind than other things,
By Right of Dignity Assisting Kings.

Yet to my Griefe I know, unlesse I find
Forthwith Assistance out of my owne Kind
I cannot Generate ; My Blood Growes Cold :
I am amaz'd to think I am so Old.

Death me Assail'd, even in my Strength of yeares,
But yet Christ's voice did penetrate the Sphaeres,
And (to Amazement) told me from above
I should Revive ; I know well by whose Love.

By other meanes I cannot enter Heaven :
And therefore (that I may be Borne agen)
I'le Humbled be into my Mother's Breast
Dissolve to what I was. And therein rest.

Hereat the Mother Animates the King,
Hasts his Conception, and doth forthwith bring
And hide him closely underneath her Traine
Till (of herselfe) sh'had made him Flesh againe.

'Twas wonderfull to see with what a grace
This Naturall Union (made at one Imbrace)
Did looke ; and by a League both sexes knitt,
Like to a Hill and Aire surrounding it.

The Mother unto her Chast Chamber goes
Where in a Bed of Honour she Bestowes
Her weary'd selfe, 'twixt Sheets as white as Snow
And there makes Signes of her approaching woe.

Ranke Poison issuing from the Dying Man
Made her pure Orient face look foule and wan :
Hence she commands all Strangers to be gone
Seals upp her Chamber doore, and lyes Alone.

Meanwhile the Peacocks Flesh she kindly Eate,
And Dranke Greene-Lyons Blood (with that fine Meate)
Which Mercury (although in Passion :)
Brought in a Golden Cupp of Babilon.

Thus great with Child, 9 months she languished
And Bath'd her with the Teares which she had shed
For his sweete sake, who should from her be Pluckt
Full-gorg'd with Milke which the Greene-Lyon suckt.

Her Skin of divers Colours did appeare
Now Black, then Greene, annon 'twas Read, and Cleare :
Oft-times she would sitt upright in her Bed,
And then again repose her Troubled Head.

Thrice Fifty Nights she lay in grievous Plight,
As many daies in Mourning sate upright :
The King Revived was in thirty more
Whose Birth was Fragrant as the Prim-Rose Flower.

Her wombe which well proportion'd was at First
Is now Enlarg'd a Thousand fold at least :
That of his Entrance Men might witnesse this
The End, by Fires, the best approved is.

Her Chamber's without Rocks, it smoothly stands,
With walls Erected like her Ivory Hands.
Or else the Fruit (for want of Fertile ground)
Had been nought worth, the Sonnes (to beare) unsound.

One Staffe was placed underneath her Bed,
And on the same another Flourished :
Trimmed up with Art, and very Temperate,
Least her fine Limbs should freeze for lack of heate.

Her Chamber doore was Lock'd and Bolted fast,
Admitting none to Trouble her, First, or Last :
The Furnace-Mouth likewise contrived, so,
That thence no vapourous Matter forth could goe.

And when the Issue there was Putrifyed
The Fine from Filthy flesh she did Divide :
Ressembling Phoebe in her Fullest Light
And Breathing, Sol himselfe was not more Bright.

Her time being come, what she conceiv'd before
Is now Re-borne, (sets ope her Chamber-door ;
And being soe) resumes a Kingly State
Possessing fully Heaven's Propitious Fate.

The Mother's Bed which erst stood in a Square
Is shortly after made Orbicular :
And on each side the Covering (as Round)
With Luna's Lustre Rightly doth Abound.

Thus from a square, the Bed a Globe is made
Fair, white, and cleare emerges from the shade
Of Night, whence doth a Ruddy Nature spring
T'enjoy the Merry Scepter of a King.

Hence God sett ope the Gates of Paradise,
Where Cynthia deckt him in Coelestiall Guise,
Sublim'd him to the Heavens, and when sh'had done,
Crown'd him in Glory, aequall with the Sun.

Foure Elements, Brave Armes, and Polish'd well
God gave him : In the mid'st whereof did dwell
A Crowned Maid, ordained for to be
In the fifth Circle [of the Mystery]:

With all delicious unguent flowed she
When Purg'd from Bloody Menstruosity :
On every side her Count'nance Brightly shone,
She being adorn'd with every Precious Stone.

A Lyon Greene did in her Lapp reside
(the which an Eagle fed) and from whose Side
Blood gushed out : the virgin drunck it upp,
Whilst Mercury's Hand did th'Office of a Cupp.

The Milk (admir'd) she hastened from her Breast
Bestow'd it frankly on the Hungry Beast,
And with a Sponge his face she likewise dry'd
Which her own Milke had often Madefy'd.

Upon her Head a Diadem she did weare
With Fiery Feete sh'Advanced into the Aire ;
And glittering Bravely in her Golden Robes
Tooke place ith' Middle of the Starry Globes.

Thus Shee (by all the Planetes, Times, and Signes,
Dark, and Despised Clouds supported), Shines
and sits in Haire of Nett-worke, whilst the king
With his Glad Eyes, is, her Beleagreing.

Thus she Triumphantly of kings is Chiefe
Of Body's sick the only Grand Reliefe :
Such a Reformist of Defects, that shee
is worshipped by Men of each degree.

To Priests and Kings she yields an Ornament
The sick and needy sort she doth content:
What Man is hee will slight so Rich a Store,
As drowns the very thought of being Poore ?

Wherefore (O God !) vouchsafe to graunt us this,
That through th' Encrease made of its species
And Second Birth, wee may ones and Agen
Enjoy its Firtile and Sweete Fruits. AMEN.



If you have problems understanding these alchemical texts, Adam McLean now provides a study course entitled How to read alchemical texts : a guide for the perplexed.