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.

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.

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

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’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.

Of the Elements

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Some hold four perfect elements there be,
Which do surmount each other by degree.
And some opinions think that one is all,
The rest from that and to that one shall2 fall:
This single3 element itself doth4 turn                                     5
To several qualities, as fire to burn,
Then5 water moist to quench that heat,6 and then
To subtle air, and so to earth again.
Like fluid water, which when turned with frost7
To snow or ice, its outward form has lost.8                         10
But whenas9 heat doth melt that icy chain,
Then into water doth it10 turn again.
Or like as vapor thick, which doth ascend11
From th’Earth, and to thin air itself doth spend,12
Or else it will condense itself to13 rain,                                15
And by its weight will fall to14 Earth again.
So15 what is very thin doth subtle grow,16
Turns into17 fire, and a18 bright flame doth show.19
But20 what is dull, heavy, and slow21 to move
Of a cold quality doth often22 prove.                                    20
Thus by contracting and dilating parts
Is all the skill of Nature’s working arts.

Air Begot by Heat and Moisture

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When heat and moisture join2 with equal merit,
They get a body3 thin of air, or spirit,
Which is a smoke or steam begot from both.
If Mother Moisture4 rule, ’tis full of sloth,
But if the5 Father Fire predominates,                       5
Then it is active, quick, and elevates.
This airy child is sometimes good or bad
According to the nourishment it had.

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.

A Fire is in the Center of the Earth.

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As heat about the heart always2 keeps nigh,
So doth a fire about the3 center lie.
This heat disperses4 through the body round,
And when that heat is not,5 no life is found.
So this heat6 makes all things to bud7 and bear,                  5
Although the sun’s hot beams do ne’er come there.
Yet doth the sun nourish all things8 without,
Though9 fire within the Earth gives life, no doubt.
Thus10 heat within begets with child the Earth,
And heat without is midwife to her birth.                           10