The Quenching out and Smothering of Heat and Light Doth Not Change the Property nor Shape of Sharp Atoms.

1

’Tis not that atoms sharp have alterèd2
Their form when fire’s put out, but motion’s fled.3
Which being4 gone,5 sharp atoms cannot prick,
Having no force in any thing to stick.
For as the sun, if6 motion moved it not,                                     5
Would7 neither shine, nor be to us so hot,
Just so, when creatures die, their form’s not gone,8
But motion, which gave life, away is flown.910
For animal spirits, which we life do call,
Are only of the sharpest atoms small.                                        10
Thus life is atoms sharp, which we call fire;
When those are stopped or quenched,11 life doth expire.

  1. In 1653 this poem is called “Quenching, and Smothering out of Heat, and Light, Doth Not Change the Property nor Shape of Sharp Atomes.”
  2. have alterèd] do change their Forme, 1653
  3. Their form when fire’s put out, but motion’s fled.] When Heat and Flame is out, but Motion’s gone: 1653
  4. Which being] When Motion’s 1653
  5. A marginal note in Cavendish’s 1653 text reads: “By ‘gone’ is meant, motion ceases. Their form doth not dissolve just at their death.” In 1664 and 1668, this note is broken up between two lines, and the line glosses “fled,” not “gone”.
  6. as the sun, if] if the Sun quicke 1653
  7. Would] T’would 1653
  8. their form’s not gone,] change not their Forme, 1653
  9. But motion, which gave life, away is flown.] That kinde of Motion, which made Life, is gone. 1653
  10. A marginal note in Cavendish’s 1653 text reads: “Life is such kind of motion as sharp atoms.”
  11. A marginal note in Cavendish’s 1653 text reads: “That is, when they are separated, or their motion stopped, and though every figure hath proper motions belonging to their shape, yet they do not move always alike, for they have one kind of motion singly, and another kind when they are united. But when they are mixed with other figures, their motion is according to their several mixtures.” Where 1653 reads “stopped, and though,” 1664 and 1668 read “stopped. N.B. Although”.