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.

What Atoms Make Heat and Cold

Such kind of atoms which1 make heat, make cold,
Like pincers sharp that2 nip and do take hold.
But atoms that are pointed sharp pierce through,3
And atoms which are sharp and4 hooked pull to.
Yet all must into pointed figures turn,                                 5
For atoms blunt will never freeze nor burn.
’Cause blunt figures do to a soft form5 bend,
And soft do6 unto wet or liquid tend.

Of Cold Winds

As water rarified doth make1 winds blow,
So winds when rarified2 do colder grow.
For if they thin are3 rarified, then they
Do further blow, and spread out every way.
So cold they are, and sharp as needle points,4                          5
For by the thinness breaks and disunites,5
Into such6 atoms fall, sharp figures be,7
Which porous bodies pierce, if we could8 see.
Yet some will think, if air were parted so
The winds could not have such strong force to blow.             10
’Tis true, if atoms all were blunt and flat,9
Or round like rings, they could not pierce, but pat.10
But by dividing, they so sharp do grow,11
That12 through all porous bodies they do go.13
But when the winds are soft, they intermix,                             15
As water doth, and in one body fix.
They rather14 wave than blow as fans are spread,
Which ladies use to cool their cheeks when red,
Or like as water drops that disunite15
Feel harder than when mixed they16 on us light,                     20
Unless such streams upon our heads do17 run,
As we a shelter seek, the wet to shun.
But when a drop congealèd is with cold,
As hailstones are, then it more strength18 doth hold.
For19 flakes of snow may have more quantity                          25
Than hailstones, yet not have more20 force thereby.
They fall so soft that they scarce21 strike our touch;
Hailstones we feel and know their weight too much.
But figures that are flat are dull and slow,
Make weak impressions22 wheresoe’er they go.                      30
For let ten times the quantity of steel
Be beaten thin,23 no hurt by that you’ll feel.
But if that one will take a needle small,
Whose point is sharp, and prick24 the flesh withal,
Straight it shall hurt, and put the flesh to pain,                        35
Which greater strength doth not of what is25 plain.
For though26 you press it hard against the skin,
’T may27 heavy feel, but cannot28 enter in.
And so29 the wind that’s thin and30 rarified
May press31 us down, but never32 pierce the side.                   40
Or take a blade that’s flat, though strong and great,
And with great strength upon one’s head it33 beat:
You’ll break the skull, but not knock out his34 brains,
Which arrows sharp soon do, and with less pains.
Thus what is small is subtler and more35 quick,                       45
For all small points36 in porous bodies stick.
Winds broken small to atoms, when they37 blow,
Are colder much than when they38 streaming flow,
For all which knit39 and united close40
Much stronger are, and give41 the harder blows.                     50
This shows what’s closest in itself42 to be,
Although an atom in43 its small degree.
Take quantity, for quantity alike,
Union44 more than mixture hard shall strike.

Of the Motion of the Sun

Sometimes we find it hot, and sometimes cold,
Yet equal in degrees the sun1 doth hold.
And in a winter’s day more heat is2 found
Than summer, when the sun should parch the ground.
For if this3 heat doth make him gallop fast,                         5
’T must4 ever equal be, or stay his haste.
If so, then seas which send up vapor may5
His fiery courage cool in the midway.6
Besides, the middle region, which is cold
And full of ice, will of his strength take hold.                     10
Then ’tis not heat that makes him run so fast,
But running fast doth heat upon Earth7 cast,
And Earth sends vapors cold to quench his heat,8
Which break his strength, and make9 his beams so weak.