Concerning the Philosophers Stone. ( alchemical verse .)

John Gower 1330 (Kent) – 1408 (London)


And also with great diligence,
Thei fonde thilke Experience:
Which cleped is Alconomie,
Whereof the Silver multiplie;
Thei made, and eke the Gold also.
And for to telle howe itt is so:
Of bodies seven in Speciall,
With fowre Spirites joynt withall;
Stant the substance of this matere,
The bodies which I speke of here,
Of the Plannets ben begonne,
The Gold is titled to the Sonne:
The Moone of Silver hath hi part,
And Iron that stonde uppon Mart:
The Leed after Saturne groweth,
And Jupiter the Brasse bestoweth;
The Copper sette is to Venus:
And to his part Mercurius
Hath the Quicksilver, as it falleth,
The which after the Boke it calleth,
Is first of thilke foure named
Of Spirits, which be proclymed,
And the Spirite which is seconde,
In Sal Armoniake is founde:
The third Spirite Sulphur is,
The fourth Sewende after this,
Arcennium by name is hotte
With blowyng, and with fires hote:
In these things which I say,
Thei worchen by divers waye.
For as the Philosopher tolde,
Of Gold and Sylver thei ben holde,
Two Principall extremitees,
To which all other by degrees,
Of the mettals ben accordant,
And so through kinde resemblant:
That what man couth awaie take,
The rust, of which they waxen blake,
And And the favour of the hardnes;
Thei shulden take the likeness;
Of Gold or Silver parfectly,
Bot for to worche it sykerly;
Between the Corps and the Spirite,
Er that the Metall be parfite,
In seven forms itt is sette
Of all, and if one be lette,
The remnant may not avayle,
But otherwise it maie nought fayle;
For thei by whome this Arte was founde,
To every poynt a certayne bounde,
Ordeinen that a man may finde,
This Craft is wrought by wey of kinde;
So that there is no fallace in;
But what man that this werke begyn;
He mote awaite at every tyde,
So that nothynge be left asyde.
  Fyrst of Distillacion,
Forth with the Cogelacion,
Solucion, Disscencion,
And kepe in his entencion,
The poynt of Sublimacion,
And forthwith Calcinacion,
Of very Approbacion,
So that there be Fixacion,
With temperate hetes of fyer,
Tyll he the perfite Elixer,
Of thilke Philosophers Stone,
Maie gette, of which that many one
Of Philosophers, whilome write,
Of thilke Stone with other two,
Which as the Clerkes maden tho;
So as the Bokes itt recorden,
The kinde of hem I shall recorden.
  These old Philosophers wise,
By wey of kynde in sondry wise;
Thre Stones made through Clergie,
The fyrst I shall specifie,
Was cleped Vegetabilis;
Of which the proper vertue is,
To mans heale to serve,
As for to keepe, and to preserve,
The body fro sickness all,
Till death of kinde upon hym fall.
The second Stone I the behote,
Is Lapis Animalis hote:
The whose vertue, is proper and couth,
For Eare and Eye, Nose and Mouth;
Whereof a man may here, and see,
And smell and tast, in his degree,
And for to feele and for to goe,
Itt helpeth a man of both two:
The witts five he undersongeth
To keepe, as it to hym belongeth.
  The third Stone in speciall
by name is cleped Minerall,
Which the Mettalls of every myne,
Attempreth, till that thei ben fyne;
And pureth hem by such a wey,
That all the vice goth awey,
Of Rust, of Stynke, and of Hardnes:
And when they ben of such clennes,
This minerall so as I fynde,
Transformeth all the fyrst kynde,
And maketh hem able to conceive,
Through his vertue and receive
Both in substance and in figure,
Of Gold and Silver the nature.
For thei two ben the extremitees,
To which after the propertees,
Hath every mettall his desire,
With helpe and comforte of the fyre.
Forth with this Stone as it is said,
Which to the Sonne and Moone is laide:
For to the Red, and to the White,
This Stone hath power to profite;
It maketh Multiplicacion
Of Gold and the fixacion,
It causeth and of this babite,
He doth the werke to be parfite:
Of thilke Elixer which me call
Alconomy, as is befalle
To hem, that whilome were wise;
But now it stant all otherwise:
Thei speken fast of thilke Stone,
But how to make it now wote none.
After the sooth Experience,
And nathles greate diligence,
Thei setten up thilke dede,
And spillen more then thei spede;
For alwey thei fynde a lette,
Which bringeth in povertee and Dette;
To hem that rich were to fore,
The Losse is had the Lucre is lore:
To gette a pound thei spendeth five,
I not how such a Craft shall thrive:
In the manner as it is used,
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

3:55 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 4,160
Words 785
Stanzas 1
Stanza Lengths 137

John Gower

John Gower was an English poet, a contemporary of William Langland and a personal friend of Geoffrey Chaucer. more…

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