What Atoms Make Change

 

’Tis several figured atoms that make change,
When several bodies meet as they do range.
For if they sympathize and do agree,
They join together, as1 one body be.
But if they meet,2 like to a rabble rout,               5
Without all order running in and out,
Then disproportionable things they make,
Because they did not their right places take.

All Things Last or Dissolve According to the Composure of Atoms.

 

Atoms which loosely join1 do not remain
So long as those which closeness do maintain.
Those make all things i’th’world to ebb2 and flow,
According as the moving atoms go.
Others in bodies, they do join so close,                  5
As in long time, they never stir nor loose.
And some will join so close and knit so fast,
As if unstirred they would forever last.
In smallest vegetables, loosest atoms3 lie,
Which is the reason they so quickly die.               10
In animals, much closer they are laid,
Which is the cause their life is longer4 stayed.
Some vegetables and animals do join
In equal strength, if atoms so combine.
But animals, where atoms close lie5 in,                15
Are stronger than some vegetables thin.
But in vegetables, where atoms do stick6 fast,
As in7 strong trees, the longer they do last.8
In minerals, they so together cleave,9
As they not any space for motion leave.10            20
Being pointed all, the closer they do lie,
Which makes11 them not like vegetables die.
Those bodies where12 loose atoms most move in,
Are soft and porous, and many times thin;
Those porous13 bodies never do live long.            25
Why so?14 Loose atoms never can be strong.
For motion’s power tosseth15 them about,
Keeps them16 from their right places:17 so life goes out.

Of the Four Principle Sorts of Atoms

1

Atoms by sympathy2 are fixèd so,
As past some principles they do not go.
For count the3 principles of all their works,4
You’ll find there are not many several sorts.5
For when they do dissolve and new forms6 make,      5
They still to their first principles do take.
All creatures, howsoe’er they may be named,7
Are of long, square, flat, or sharp atoms framed.8

Of the Sympathy of These Four Principle Figured Atoms

1

Such sympathy there is in every figure,23
That every several sort do flock together,4
As air, water, earth, and5 fire,
Which make each element to be entire.
Not but loose atoms like sheep stray6 about,          5
And into7several places go in8 and out,
And some as sheep and kine do mix9 together,
Which10 when they mix, ’tis several change of weather.
But Motion as their shepherd drives them so,
As not to let them out of order go.                             10

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.