"Nature feels / A strange commotion to her inmost centre; / The throne of reason shakes"

— Watts, Isaac (1674-1748)

Place of Publication
Printed for Richard Ford and Richard Hett
"Nature feels / A strange commotion to her inmost centre; / The throne of reason shakes"
Metaphor in Context
My frame of nature is a ruffled sea,
And my disease the tempest. Nature feels
A strange commotion to her inmost centre;
The throne of reason shakes.
'Be still, my thoughts;
'Peace and be still.' In vain my reason gives
The peaceful word, my spirit strives in vain
To calm the tumult and command my thoughts.
This flesh, this circling blood, these brutal powers,
Made to obey, turn rebels to the mind,
Nor hear its laws. The engine rules the man.
Unhappy change! When nature's meaner springs,
Fir'd to impetuous ferments, break all order;
When little restless atoms rise and reign
Tyrants in sov'reign uproar, and impose
Ideas on the mind; confus'd ideas
Of non-existents and impossibles,
Who can describe them? Fragments of old dreams,
Borrow'd from midnight, torn from fairy fields
And fairy skies, and regions of the dead,
Abrupt, ill-sorted! O 'tis all confusion!
If I but close my eyes, strange images
In thousand forms and thousand colours rise,
Stars, rainbows, moons, green dragons, bears and ghosts,
An endless medley rush upon the stage,
And dance and riot wild in reason's court
Above control. I'm in a raging storm,
Where seas and skies are blended, while my soul
Like some light worthless chip of floating cork
Is tost from wave to wave: Now overwhelm'd
With breaking floods, I drown, and seem to lose
All being: Now high-mounted on the ridge
Of a tall foaming surge, I'm all at once
Caught up into the storm, and ride the wind,
The whistling wind; unmanageable steed,
And feeble rider! Hurried many a league
Over the rising hills of roaring brine,
Thro' airy wilds unknown, with dreadful speed
And infinite surprise; till some few minutes
Have spent the blast, and then perhaps I drop
Near to the peaceful coast; some friendly billow
Lodges me on the beach, and I find rest:
Short rest I find; for the next rolling wave
Snatches me back again; then ebbing far
Sets me adrift, and I am borne off to sea,
Helpless, amidst the bluster of the winds,
Beyond the ken of shore.
Found again searching "throne" and "reason" in HDIS (Poetry)
At least 5 entries in the ECCO and ESTC (1734, 1737, 1742, 1752, 1789).

Isaac Watts, Reliquiae Juveniles. Miscellaneous Thoughts, in Prose and verse, on Natural, Moral, and Divine Subjects; Written Chiefly in Younger Years. By I. Watts, D.D. (London: Printed for Richard Ford at the Angel, and Richard Hett at the Bible and Crown, 1734). <Link to ECCO>

Text from The Works of the Reverend and Learned Isaac Watts, D. D., 6 vols. (London: Printed by and for John Barfield, 1810).
Date of Entry

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