“The matter first of metals Mercury
A moisture is which wetteth not the hand
Yet flows, and therefore is named water dry,
The vulgar is at every one’s command,
But this is not the water we desire,
For in our water is our secret fire.
This Matter while its life it did retain,
Was apt all metals e’en to procreate,
The life when gone, then dead it doth remain
Till a new soul shall it reanimate.
This Matter is to metals all of kin
All which do hide a Mercury within.
He then who knows the parts of Mercury
And can it superfluities decrease
And with true sulfur it can vivify;
For dead it is, though, fluent, he with east
May gold unlock and after recongeal
Both to an Essence which all griefs can heal.
Lo! Here a spring of wealth, a Tree of Life,
No wealth so great, no sickness here is rife,
Here in a map, thou seest the creatures all
Abridged, and reduced to their perfection.
Here thou beholdest in a Subject Small,
From this world’s misery a full protection.
O Mercury, you wonder of the world!
How strange thy nature is and how compact!
A body dost possess which doth enfold
A Spirit inexpressible to act,
Our mysteries; this only we desire,
This is our water, this our secret fire.
For Argent Vive is gold essential
Only unripe, which, if thou canst prepare
By art, it gives the secret menstrual:
The mother of our Stone which is so rare.
Our oil, our unguent, and our marchasite;
Which we do name also our fountain bright.
O crystal fountain! Which with fourfold spring
Rubs down the valleys with its pearly drops
Distilling, with which our noble king
Is washed and carried to the mountain tops,
Where he the virtue of the Heavens receives,
Which never after him, when fixed, leaves.
This our May-dew which our earth doth move
To bring forth fruit, which fruit is perfect gold:
This is our Eve, whom Adam doth so love,
That in her arms his soul, stange to be told,
He doth receive, who erst as dead was seen,
And quickened first appears in colours green.
How this? Even thus, in Saturn there is hid
A soul immortal which in prison lies,
Untie its fetters, which do it forbid
To sight for to appear, then shall arise
A Vapour shining, like pearl orient,
Which is our Moon and sparkling Firmament.”
Mary Anne Atwood, A Suggestive Inquiry Into the Hermetic Mystery