Of the Sound of Water, Air and Flame


When crowds of atoms meet, not joinèd close,
By Motion quick they2 give each other blows.3
So atoms hollow, which are long and round,
When they do strike, do make the greatest sound.
Not that there’s anything that moves therein                      5
To make rebounds, but that their form’s more thin.4
For being thin, they larger are, and wide,
Which make them apt to strike each other’s side.
In larger bulks, encounters are more fierce
When they do5 strike, though not so quick to pierce.       10
This is the reason water, air, and flame
Do make most noise when motions move the same.
For atoms loose are like to people rude,
And make great6 noise when in a multitude.

  1. In 1653 this poem is called “Of the Sound of Waters, Aire, Flame more then Earth, or Aire Without Flame”
  2. they] do 1653
  3. A marginal note in Cavendish’s 1653 text reads: “The encounters of bodies make all sound.”
  4. A marginal note in Cavendish’s 1653 text reads: “Long and round atoms are more thin than flat or sharp, by reason they are more hollow, and their hollowness makes their bulk bigger, though not their weight heavier.”
  5. they do] that they 1653
  6. And make great] Make horrid 1653