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.

Of Stars

We find that i’th’East Indies1 stars there be,
Which we in our horizon ne’er did2 see;
Yet we do take great pains in glasses clear
To see what stars do in the sky appear.
But yet the more we search, the less we know,                  5
Because we find our work doth endless grow.
For who knows, but those stars3 we see by night
Are suns which to some other worlds give light?
But could our outward senses pace the sky,
As well as can4 imaginations high,5                                     10
If we were there, we might as little6 know
As those which stay, and never up do7 go.
Then let no8 man in fruitless pains life spend:
The most we know is, Nature death will send.

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.

It Is Hard to Believe that there Are Other Worlds in this World.



Nothing so hard in nature as faith is,2
For3 to believe impossibilities—
Not that they’re not,4 but that they do not clear5
Unto our reason and to sense appear.6                      
For reason cannot find them out, since they7                    5
Seem wrought beyond all Nature’s course and way.8
For9 many things our senses dull may scape,10
For they’re too gross to know each form and11 shape.
So in this world another world12 may be,
Which13 we do neither touch, taste, smell, hear, see.14   10
What eye so clear is, yet did ever see15
Those little hooks that in the loadstone be,16
Which draw hard iron, or give reasons why17
The needle’s point still in the north will lie?
As for example, atoms in the air                                           15
We ne’er perceive, although the light be fair.
And18 whatsoever can a body claim,
Though ne’er so small, life may be in the same.
And what has19 life may understanding have,
Though’t20 be to us as buried in the21 grave.                      20
Then probably may men and women small,
Live in the world, which we know not22 at all,
May build them houses to dwell in, and make23
Orchards and gardens,24 where they pleasure take,
Have25 birds which sing, and cattle in the field,                25
May plow and sow, and there26 small corn may yield;
They may have commonwealths,27 and kings to reign,
Make wars and battles, where are many28 slain,
And all without our hearing, or our sight,
Or29 any of our other senses30 light.                                     30
And other stars, and suns, and moons31 may be,
Which our dull eyes shall never come to see.
But we are apt to laugh at tales so told:
Thus senses gross do back our reason32 hold.
Yet things which are ’gainst nature we think33 true,        35
That spirits change and can take bodies new,
That life may be, yet in no body live,
For which no sense nor reason we can give.
As34 incorporeal spirits this fancy35 feigns,
Yet fancy cannot be without some brains.                          40
If fancy36 without substance cannot37 be,
Then souls are more than reason well can see.

Of Many Worlds in this World

Just like as in1 a nest of boxes round
Degrees of sizes in2 each box are found,
So in this world, may many worlds more3 be,
Thinner and less, and less still by degree.
Although they are not subject to our sense,              5
A world may be no bigger than twopence.
Nature is curious, and such works may shape4
Which our dull senses easily escape.5
For creatures small as atoms may be there,
If every atom6 a creature’s figure bear.                    10
If atoms four7 a world can make,8 then see
What several worlds might in an earring be.
For millions of these9 atoms may be in
The head of one small little single pin.
And if thus small, then ladies well may10 wear       15
A world of worlds as pendants in each ear.

A World in an Earring

An earring round may well a zodiac1 be,
Wherein a sun goes round, which we don’t2 see;
And planets seven about that sun may move,
And he stand still, as learnèd men3 would prove;
And fixed stars like twinkling diamonds, placed                   5
About this earring, which a world is, vast.
That same which doth the earring hold, the hole,
Is that we call the North and Southern Pole;4
There nipping frosts may be, and winters5 cold,
Yet never on the lady’s ear take hold.                                      10
And lightning,6 thunder, and great winds may blow
Within this earring, yet the ear not know.
Fish there may swim in seas, which ebb and flow,7
And islands be, wherein do spices grow;8
There crystal rocks hang dangling at each ear,                     15
And golden mines as jewels may they wear.
There earthquakes9 be, which mountains vast down fling,
And yet ne’er stir the lady’s ear, nor ring.
There meadows10 be, and pastures fresh and green,
And cattle feed, and yet be never seen,                                   20
And gardens fresh,11 and birds which sweetly sing,
Although we hear them not in an earring.
There12 night and day, and heat and cold, and so13
May14 life and death, and young and old still grow.15
Thus16 youth may spring, and several ages die;                    25
Great plagues may be, and no infections17 nigh.
There cities18 be, and stately houses19 built,
Their20 inside gay, and finely may be gilt.
There churches be,21 wherein priests teach and sing,22
And steeples23 too, yet hear the bells not ring.                      30
From thence may pious tears to Heaven run,24
And yet the ear not know which way they’re gone.
There markets be,25 where things are26 bought and sold,
Though th’ear knows not the price their27 markets hold.
There governors do28 rule, and kings do29 reign,                  35
And battles fought, where many may be30 slain.
And all within the compass of this ring,
Whence they no31 tidings to the wearer bring.
Within the32 ring, wise counsellors may sit,
And yet the ear not one wise word may get.                           40
There may be dancing all night at a ball,
And yet the ear be not disturbed at all.
There rivals33 duels fight, where some are slain;
There34 lovers mourn, yet hear them not complain.
And Death may dig a lover’s grave: thus were                        45
A lover dead in a fair lady’s ear.
But when the ring is broke, the world is done;
Then lovers they into Elysium run.35

Several Worlds in Several Circles

There may be many worlds like circles round;
In after ages more worlds may be found.1
If we by art of shipping could into2
Each circle slip, we might perhaps it know.3
This world compared to some may be but small:              5
No doubt but4 Nature made degrees of all.
If not, Drake ne’er had made so quick a skip5
About the largest circle in6 his7 ship.
For8 some may be so big as none can swim,
Had they the life of old Methusalem.                                  10
Or had they lives to number with each day,
They would want time to compass half the way.
But if that Drake had lived in Venus’s9 star,
His journey shorter might have10 been by far.