The Motion of Thoughts

Musing one time alone,1 mine eyes being2 fixed
Upon the ground, my sight with gravel mixed,
My feet did walk without direction’s guide;
My thoughts did travel far and wander wide.
At last they chanced upon3 a hill to climb,                                 5
And being there, saw things that were divine.
        First, what4 they saw: a glorious light did5 blaze,
Whose splendor made it painful for the6 gaze.
No separations nor shadows by stops7 made,
No darkness did8 obstruct this light with shade.                     10
This light had no dimension, nor no bound,9
No limits, but it10 filled all places round.11
Always in motion ’twas,12 yet fixed did prove,
Like to the twinkling stars, which never move.
This motion working, running several ways,                           15
Seemed as if contradictions it would13 raise,
For with itself it seemed not to agree,14
Like to15 a skein of thread, if’t knotted be.
For some did go straight in an even line,
But some again did cross, and some did twine.                        20
Yet at the last, all several motions run
Into the first Prime Motion, which begun.
In various forms and shapes did life run through,
Which was eternal, but the shapes were16 new;
No17 sooner made, but quickly18 passed away,                         25
Yet while they were, they did desire19 to stay.
But motion to one form can ne’er constant20 be,
For life, which motion is, joys in21 variety.
For the22 First Motion everything can make,
But cannot add unto itself, nor take.                                           30
Indeed no other matter could it23 frame:
Itself was all, and in itself the same.
Perceiving now this fixèd point of light,
I spied24 a union: Knowledge, Power, and Might,
Wisdom, Truth, Justice,25 Providence, all one,                          35
No attribute was by itself26 alone.
Not like to27 several lines drawn to one point,
For what doth meet may be again28 disjoint.
But this same29 point, from whence all lines did30 flow,
Nought can diminish it, or31 make it grow.                               40
’Tis its own center and circumference round,
Yet neither has a limit nor32 a bound.
A fixed eternity,33 and so will last:
All present is, nothing to come or34 past.
A fixed perfection; nothing can add more;                               45
All things is it, and itself doth35 adore.
My thoughts then wondering at what they did see,
Found at the last themselves the same to be,36
Yet were37 so small a branch, as they38 could not
Know39 whence they sprung, nor how they40 were begot.    50
        Some say, all that41 we know of Heaven above
Is that we joy, and that we love.42
But who43 can tell that? For all we know,44
Those passions we call joy and love below45
May by excess such other passions grow;                                  55
None in the world is capable to know.
Just like our bodies, although46 they shall rise,
And as St. Paul says, see God with our eyes,
Yet may we in the change such difference find,
Both in our bodies, and also in mind,47                                      60
As if we never had been of48 mankind,
And that these49 eyes we see with now were blind.
Say we can measure all the planets high,
And number all the stars be50 in the sky,
And we can circle51 all the world about,                                    65
And can find all52 th’effects of nature out:53
Yet all54 the wise and learnèd cannot tell55
What’s done in Heaven, or how we there shall dwell.

  1. one time alone] alone 1653
  2. being] were 1664, 1668
  3. upon] up to 1653
  4. what] when 1664, 1668
  5. did] to 1653
  6. made it painful for the] pain’d their Sight upon’t to 1664; pain’d their Sight, upon’t to 1668
  7. separations, nor shadows by stops] Shadows it, nor Separations 1664, 1668
  8. did] to 1653
  9. no bound,] Extent, 1653
  10. No limits, but it] But 1653
  11. round.] full, without Circumvent; 1653
  12. motion ’twas,] Motion, 1653
  13. Seemed as if contradictions it would] Did seeme a Contradiction for to 1653
  14. For with itself it seemed not to agree,] As to it selfe with it selfe disagree, 1653
  15. Like to] Is like 1653
  16. Which was eternal, but the shapes were] Life from Eternity, but Shapes still 1653
  17. No] And these not 1664, 1668
  18. but quickly] but 1664, 1668
  19. they did desire] desirous were 1653
  20. to one form can ne’er constant] which is Life, can never 1664, 1668
  21. For life, which motion is, joys in] Constant to one, but loves 1664, 1668
  22. For the] And as 1664, 1668
  23. Indeed no other matter could it] So it could not another Matter 1664, 1668
  24. I spied] To be 1653
  25. Truth, Justice,] Justice, Truth, 1653
  26. was by itself] is with it selfe 1653
  27. to] as 1664, 1668
  28. be again] separate, 1653
  29. same] a 1653
  30. did] do 1653
  31. Nought can diminish it, or] Nothing can Diminish nor 1664; Nothing diminish can, nor 1668
  32. nor] or 1653
  33. A fixed eternity] But fix’d Eternally 1664, 1668
  34. or] nor 1664, 1668
  35. itself doth] doth It self 1664, 1668
  36. A marginal note in Cavendish’s 1653 text reads: “All things come from God Almighty.”
  37. were] was 1653
  38. as they] perceive 1653
  39. Know] From 1653
  40. nor how they] or which waies 1653
  41. that] what 1664, 1668
  42. that we joy, and that we love.] we shall have a perfect Joy and Love; 1664; we shall have a perfect Joy and Love. 1668
  43. But who] Who 1653
  44. all we know,] what do we call 1664, 1668
  45. Those passions we call joy and love below] Below here Joy and Love, these Passions all 1664; Below here, Joy and Love, these Passions all 1668
  46. although] though that 1653
  47. in mind,] in our Mind, 1653
  48. we never had been of] that we were never of 1653
  49. these] those 1664, 1668
  50. all the stars be] every Star that’s 1664; every Starr that’s 1668
  51. we can circle] Circle could we 1653
  52. can find all] all 1653
  53. out] could finde out 1653
  54. all] cannot all 1653
  55. cannot tell] tell 1653