"Here, Richard, how could I explain, / The various Lab'rinths of the Brain?"

— Prior, Matthew (1664-1721)

Place of Publication
Jacob Tonson and John Barber
"Here, Richard, how could I explain, / The various Lab'rinths of the Brain?"
Metaphor in Context
Here, Richard, how could I explain,
The various Lab'rinths of the Brain?

Surprise My Readers, whilst I tell 'em
Of Cerebrum, and Cerebellum?
How could I play the Commentator
On Dura, and on Pia Mater?
Where Hot and Cold, and Dry and Wet,
Strive each the t'other's Place to get;
And with incessant Toil and Strife,
Would keep Possession during Life.
I could demonstrate every Pore,
Where Mem'ry lays up all her Store;
And to an Inch compute the Station,
'Twixt Judgment, and Imagination.
O Friend! I could display much Learning,
At least to Men of small Discerning.
The Brain contains ten thousand Cells:
In each some active Fancy dwells;
Which always is at Work, and framing
The several Follies I was naming.
As in a Hive's vimineous Dome,
Ten thousand Bees enjoy their Home;
Each does her studious Action vary,
To go and come, to fetch and carry:
Each still renews her little Labor;
Nor justles her assiduous Neighbour:
Each--whilst this Thesis I maintain;
I fancy, Dick, I know thy Brain.
O with the mighty Theme affected,
Could I but see thy Head dissected!
Searching in HDIS (Poetry)
Searching in ECCO and ESTC (1718, 1720, 1721, 1725, 1728, 1733, 1734, 1741, 1751, 1754, 1755, 1759, 1768, 1766, 1767, 1769, 1771, 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, 1784, 1790, 1798). See also Prior's Poetical Works (1777, 1779, 1784, 1798). Found in A Collection of English Poets, vol. 10 (1776), The British Poets, vol. 18 (1778), and The Works of the English Poets (1779, 1790). I haven't yet been able to confirm that Alma is in 2 vol. Poems of 1755, 1766, 1767 (texts not available in ECCO).

See Prior's Alma: Or, The Progress of the Mind. In Three Cantos published in Poems on Several Occasions (London: Printed for J. Tonson and J. Barber, 1718). <Link to ECCO>

Searching text from Poems on Several Occasions, ed. A. R. Waller (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1905). Reading The Literary Works of Matthew Prior, ed. H. Bunker Wright and Monroe K. Spears. 2 vols. 2nd Edition (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1971).
Date of Entry
Date of Review

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.