Nature Calls a Counsel, which is Motion, Figure, Matter, and Life, to Advise about Making the World.

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When Nature first the world’s foundation laid,2
She called a counsel how it might be made.3
Motion was first, who4 had a subtle wit,
And then came Life, and Form, and Matter fit.
First Nature spake:5 “My friends, if we agree,             5
We can and may do a fine work,” said she,
“Make some things to adore us,6 worship give,
Whereas now we but to7 ourselves do live.
Besides, it is my nature things to make,
To give out work, and8 you directions take.               10
Wherefore if you will pleasure have therein,9
You’ll10 breed the Fates in housewif’ry to spin,
And make strong Destiny to take some11 pains,
Lest she grow idle, let her12 link some chains.
Inconstancy and Fortune turn a wheel,                      15
Since both are13 wanton, cannot stand, but reel.
And as for moisture, let it water give,14
Which heat suck up, to make things grow and live,15
And let sharp cold stay things that run about,
And drought stop holes, to keep the water out.         20
Vacuum and darkness they will domineer
If Motion’s power make no16 light appear;
Wherefore produce a light, the world to see,17
My only child from all eternity—
Beauty, my love, my joy and dear delight—                25
Else darkness rude will cover her with spite.”
        “Alas!” said Motion, “all pains I can take18
Will do no good, Matter a brain must19 make,
And Figure20 draw a circle, round, and small,
Where in the midst must stand a glassy ball,              30
Without convex, but inwardly21 concave,
And in its middle22 a round small hole must have,
That species may thorough pass, and Life23
May view all things as through a prospective.”24
        “Alas!” said Life, “whatever we do make,           35
Death, my great enemy, will from us take:
And who can hinder his strong,25 mighty power?
He with his cruelty doth26 all devour,
And Time, his agent, brings27 all to decay:
Thus neither Death nor Time will you obey.               40
He cares for none of your commands, nor will
Obey your laws, but doth what likes him28 still.
He knows his power far exceedeth ours,
For whatsoe’er we make, he soon devours.
Let me advise you ne’er to take29 such pains              45
A world to make, since Death hath all the gains.”
        Figure’s opinion did agree with Life,
“For Death,” said she, “will fill the world with strife.
What Form soever I do turn into,
Death finds me out: that Form he doth undo.”            50
Then Motion spake: “None hath such cause as I
For to complain, for Death makes Motion die.
’Tis best to let alone this work, I think.”
Says Matter, “Death corrupts, and makes me stink.”
Says Nature, “I am of another mind:                            55
If we let Death alone, we soon shall find
He wars will make, and raise a mighty power,
If we divert him not, may us devour.
He is ambitious, will in triumph sit,30
Envies my works, and seeks my State to get.31            60
And Fates, though they upon great Life attend,
Yet fear they Death, and dare not him32 offend.
Though two be true, and spin as Life them bids,
The third is false, and cuts short the long threads.33
Let us agree, for fear we should do worse,                   65
And make some work for to employ34 his force.”
Then all rose up: “We do submit,” said35 they,
“And36 Nature’s will in every thing obey.”
        First Matter she materials in did bring,37
And Motion cut, and carved out every thing.               70
And Figure, she did draw the forms and plots,
And Life divided all out into lots.
And Nature, she surveyed, directed all,
And with four elements38 built the world’s ball.
The solid earth she as foundation39 laid;                       75
The waters round about as walls were raised,40
Where every drop lay close, like41 stone or brick,
Whose moisture like to42 mortar made them stick.
Air, as the ceiling, keeps all close within,43
Lest some materials out of place might spring.            80
And presses down the seas, lest44 they should rise
And45 overflow the Earth, and drown the skies.
For as a roof is46 laid upon a wall,
To keep it steady, that no side may47 fall,
So Nature in that place air wisely stayed,48                   85
And fire, like tile or slate, the highest laid49
To keep out rain, or wet, else it would rot:
So50 would the world corrupt if fire were not.
The planets, like as weather-fans, turn round;
The sun a dial in the midst is found,                                90
Where he doth give so just account of time51
And52 measures all, though round, by even line.
But when the Earth was made, and seed did sow,53
Plants on the Earth, and minerals down grow,54
Then creatures made, which Motion did give55 sense, 95
Yet reason none to give56 intelligence.
But Nature found, when she to make Man came,57
It was more difficult than worlds to frame;58
For she did strive to make him long to last,
And so into eternity him59 cast.                                         100
Who60 in no other place could be kept61 long,
But in eternity, that castle strong.
There she was sure that Death she could keep62 out,
Although he is a warrior strong and stout.
Man she would make, but not like other kind:63            105
Though not in body, like a God in mind.
Then she did call her counsel once again,
Told them the greatest work did64 yet remain.
“For how,” said she, “can we ourselves new make?65
Yet Man we must like to ourselves create,66                    110
Or else he never can67 escape Death’s snare;
To make this work requires68 both skill and care.
But I a mind will mix69 as I think fit,
With knowledge, understanding, and with wit.
And Motion, you your servants70 must employ,              115
Which Passions are, to wait still in the eye,
To dress, and clothe this71 mind in fashions new,
Which none knows better how to do72 you,
That, though his body die,73 this mind shall74 live,
And a free will we must unto it give.                                 120
But Matter, you from Figure form must take,
And Man from other creatures different75 make.
For he shall upright go;76 the rest shall not.
And Motion, you in him must tie a knot
Of several motions, there to meet in one.                         125
Thus Man like to himself shall be alone.
You, Life, command the Fates a thread to spin,
From which small thread the body shall begin.
And while the thread doth last, not cut in twain,
The body shall in motion still remain.                                130
But when the thread is broke, he77 down shall fall,
And for a time no motion have at all.
But yet the mind shall live and never die;
We’ll raise the body too for company.
Thus, like ourselves, we can78 make things to live          135
Eternally, but no past times can give.

Death’s Endeavor to Hinder and Obstruct Nature

When Death did hear what Nature did intend,
To hinder her he all his force did bend.
But finding all his forces were too weak,
He always strives the thread of Life to break,
And strives1 to fill the mind with black despair,        5
Lets it not rest in peace, nor free from care.
And since he cannot make it die, he will
Send grief and sorrow to torment it still.
With grievous pains the body he displeases,
And binds it hard with chains of strong diseases.    10
His servants Sloth and Sleep he doth employ
To get half of the time before they die:
But Sleep, a friend to Life, oft disobeys
His master’s will, and softly down her lays
Upon her2 weary limbs, like birds in nest,                  15
And gently locks her3 senses up in rest.

A World Made by Atoms

Small atoms of themselves a world may make,
For, being subtle, every shape they take.1
And as they dance about, they2 places find;
Such forms as3 best agree make every kind.
For when we build a4 house of brick or5 stone,      5
We lay them even, every one by one:
And when we find a gap that’s big or small,
We seek out stones to fit that place withal.
For when as they6 too big or little be,
They fall away and cannot stay, we see.                   10
So atoms as they dance find places fit;
They there remain, lie close, and fast will stick.7
Those which not fit,8 the rest that rove about
Do never leave, until they thrust them out.
Thus by their several motions, and their forms,9   15
As several workmen serve each other’s turns.10
And so11 by chance may a new world create,
Or else, predestinate, may work by12 Fate.

The Four Principle Figured Atoms Make the Four Elements, as Square, Round, Long, and Sharp.

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The square flat atoms as dull earth appear;
The atoms round do make the water clear.
The long straight atoms like to2 arrows fly,
Mount next the sharp3 and make the airy sky.
The sharpest atoms into fire do turn,4                            5
And5 by their piercing quality do6 burn:
That figure makes them active, active light,
Which makes them get above the rest in flight.
And by this figure they stick fast, and draw
Up other atoms, which are round and raw.                 10
But water is7 round drops, though ne’er so small,
Which shows8 its figure to be9 spherical.
That figure makes it spongy, spongy wet,
And10 being hollow, softness doth beget.
And being soft, that11 makes it run about;                   15
More solid atoms thrust it in, or out.
But sharpest atoms have most power thereon,12
For cold doth nip it, and heat makes it run.13
But atoms flat,14 are heavy, dull, and slow,
And sinking downward15 to the bottom go.                 20
These16 figured atoms are not active, light,
Whereas the long are like the sharp in flight.
For as the sharp do pierce and get on high,
So do the long shoot straight and evenly.
The round are next the flat, the long next round;        25
Those which are sharp are still the highest found.
The flat turn all to earth and17 lie most low,
The round to water clear, which18 liquid flow.
The long to air, from whence the clouds do grow;19
The sharp to fire do turn20, which hot doth glow.        30
Thus these four figures th’elements21 do make,
And as their figures do incline, they take.
For they22 are perfect in themselves alone,
Not taking any shape, but what’s their own.
And whatsoever form is elsewhere found,23                35
Must take from long or square or sharp or round.24
For25 those that are like to triangles26 cut,
Part of three figures in one form is put.
And those that bow and bend like to a bow
Like to the round, and jointed atoms27 show.               40
In those that28 branched, or those which crooked be,
You may both the long and29 sharp figures see.
Thus several figures several tempers make,
But what is mixed doth of the four partake.

Of Airy Atoms

Long atoms, which the streaming air do make,1
Are hollow, from which form air softness takes.2
This makes that air and water ne’er agree,
Because in hollowness alike they be.
For airy atoms made are like a pipe,3                        5
And wat’ry atoms, round and cymbal-like.4
Although the one is long, and th’other5 round,
Yet in the midst a hollowness is found.
This makes us think that water turns to6 air,
And air runs often7 into water fair.                           10
And like two twins they are mistaken8 oft,
Because their hollowness makes both them soft.

Of Air

The reason why air is1 so equal spread,
Is atoms long, at each end balancèd.
For being long, and each end both alike,2
Are like to weights, which keep it steady, right.3
For howsoe’er it moves,4 join to what form it will,5       5
Yet lies in every line that figure still.6
For atoms long, their forms as thread are spun,7
And like a cobweb interwoven run;8
And thus air, being thin, so9 subtle grows,
That into every empty place it goes.                                 10

Of Earth

Why’s earth1 not apt to move, but slow and dull?
Flat atoms have no vacuum, but are2 full.
That form admits no empty place to bide;
All parts are filled, having no hollow side.3
And where no vacuum is, motion is4 slow,                   5
Having no empty places for to go.
Though atomes all are small, as small may be,
Yet by their forms doth motion5 disagree.
For atoms sharp do make themselves a way,6
Cutting through other atoms as they stray.                 10
But atoms flat will dull and lazy lie,7
Having no edge or point to make a way.8

The Weight of Atoms

 

If1 atoms are as small as small can be,
They must in quantity2 of matter all agree.
And if consisting matter of the same be right,3
Then every atom must weigh just alike.4
Thus quantity, quality, and weight, all5                          5
Together meet6 in every atom small.

The Bigness of Atoms

 

When I say1 atoms small as small can be,
I mean quantity, quality, and weight agree.2
Not in the3 figure, for some may show4
Much bigger, and some lesser: so5
Take water fluid and ice, and you will see,6                            5
They do in weight but not in bulk agree.7
So atoms: some are8 soft, others more knit,
According as each atom’s figurèd.9
Atoms whose forms are hollow, long, and round10
Bend more than flat11 or sharp, which close are bound.12  10
And being hollow, they are spread more thin
Than other atoms which are close within.
And atoms which are thin are softer much,13
When atoms close are of a harder touch.14