Item of the Day: Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy (1660)

Full Title:

The Anatomy of Melancholy. What it is, with all the kinds causes, symptoms, prognostickes, & seuerall cures of it, In three Partitions, with their severall Sections, members, & subsections, Philosophically, Medicinally, Historically, opened & cut up By Democritus Junior. With a Satyricall Preface, conducing to the following Discourse. [By Robert Burton.] 7th edition. London: E. Wallis, 1660.

The Authors Abstract of Melancholy:

When I goe musing all alone,
Thinking of divers things fore-known,
When I build Castles in the air,
Void of sorrow and void of fear,
Pleasing my self with phantasms sweet,
Me thinks the time runs very fleet.

All my joyes to this are folly,
Naught so sweet as Melancholy.

When I lye walking all alone,
Recounting what I have ill done,
My thoughts on me then tyrannise,
Fear and sorrow me surprise,
Whether I tarry still or go,
Me thinks the time moves very slow.

All my griefs to this are jolly,
Naught so sad as Melancholy.

When to my selfe I act and smile,
With pleasing thoughts the time beguile.
By a brook side or wood so green,
Unheard, unsought for, or unseen,
A thousand pleasures doe me bless,
And crown my soul with happiness.

All my joyes besides are folly,
None of sweet as Melancholy.

When I lie, sit, or walk alone,
I sigh, I grieve, making great mone,
In a dark grove, or irksome den,
With discontents and Furies then,
A thousand miseries at once,
Mine heavy heart and soul ensconce.

All my grief to this are jolly,
None so sour as Melancholy.

Me thinks I hear, me thinks I see,
Sweet musick, wondrous melodie,
Towns, places and Cities fine;
Here now, then there; the world is mine,
Rare beauties, gallant Ladies shine,
What e’re is lovely or divine.

All other joyes to this are folly,
None so sweet as Melancholy.

Me thinks I hear, me thinks I see
Ghosts, goblins, fiends; my phantasie
Presents a thousand ugly shapes,
Headless bears, black men, and apes,
Dolefull outcries, and fearfull sights,
My sad and dismall soul affrights.

All my griefs to this are jolly,
None so damn’d as Melancholy.

Me thinks I court, me thinks I kiss,
Me thinks I now embrace my mistriss,
O blessed dayes, O sweet content,
In Paradise my time is spent.
Such thoughts may still my fancy move,
So may I ever be in love.

All my joyes to this are folly,
Naught so sweet as Melancholy.

When I recount loves many frights,
My sighes and tears, my waking nights,
My jealous fits; O mine hard fate
I now repent, but ’tis too late.
No torment is so bad as love,
So bitter to my soul can prove.

All my griefs to this are jolly,
Nought so harsh as Melancholy.

Friends and Companions get you gone,
‘Tis my desire to be alone;
Ne’re well but when my thoughts and I
Do domineer in privacie.
No Gemm, no treasure like to this,
‘Tis my delight, my Crown, my bliss.

All my joyes to this are folly,
Naught so sweet as Melancholy.

‘Tis my sole plague to be alone,
I am a beast, a monster grown,
I will no light nor company,
I find it now my misery.
The scean is turn’d, my joyes are gone;
Fear, discontent, and sorrows come.

All my griefs to this are jolly,
Naught so fierce as Melancholy.

Ile not change life with any King,
I ravisht am: can the world bring
More joy, then still to laugh and smile;
In pleasant toy time to beguile?
Do not, O doe not trouble me,
So sweet content I feel and see.

All my joyes to this are folly,
None so divine as Melancholy.

Il’e change my state with any wretch,
Thou canst from gaole or dunghill fetch:
My pain, past cure, another Hell,
I may not in this torment dwell,
Now desparate I hate my life,
Lend me a halter or a knife.

All my griefs to this are jolly.
Naught so damn’d as Melancholy.

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Filed under 1660's, Poetry, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt

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