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


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 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

Of Dews and Mists Coming from the Earth


Some atoms sharp thrust from the Earth some round,
And then a pearlèd dew lies on the ground.
But if on their sharp points they bear them2 high,
They,3 being raised, a mist make in the sky.4
On the circumference of the5 Earth there lies                    5
The loosest atoms, which are6 apt to rise;
Though not so high as them the sun may burn,7
For being dull, they back to Earth return.
As water, which is shoved with force of strength
Is not so apt to move, as run at length.                               10