Margaret Cavendish

From Poems, 1653

Nature's Cook

DEATH is the Cook of Nature; and we find
Meat drest severall waies to please her Mind.
Some Meates shee rosts with Feavers, burning hot,
And some shee boiles with Dropsies in a Pot.
Some for Gelly consuming by degrees,
And some with Ulcers, Gravie out to squeese.
Some Flesh as Sage she stuffs with Gouts, and Paines,
Others for tender Meat hangs up in Chaines.
Some in the Sea she pickles up to keep,
Others, as Brawne is sous'd, those in Wine steep.
Some with the Pox, chops Flesh, and Bones so small,
Of which She makes a French Fricasse withall.
Some on Gridirons of Calenture* is broyl'd,
And some is trodden on, and so quite spoyl'd.
But those are bak'd, when smother'd they do dye,
By Hectick Feavers some Meat She doth fry.
In Sweat sometimes she stues with savoury smell,
A Hodge-Podge of Diseases tasteth well.
Braines drest with Apoplexy to Natures wish,
Or swimmes with Sauce of Megrimes in a Dish.
And Tongues she dries with Smoak from Stomack's ill,
Which as the second Course she sends up still.
Then Death cuts Throats, for Blood-puddings to make,
And puts them in the Guts, which Collicks rack.
Some hunted are by Death, for Deere that's red.
Or Stal-fed Oxen, knocked on the Head.
Some for Bacon by Death are Sing'd, or scal'd,
Then powdered up with Flegme, and Rhume that's salt.

* Delirious tropical disease.

British Women Writers.
Dale Spender and Janet Todd, Eds.
New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1989. 23-24.

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