The Bigness of Atoms


When I say1 atoms small as small can be,
I mean quantity, quality, and weight agree.2
Not in the3 figure, for some may show4
Much bigger, and some lesser: so5
Take water fluid and ice, and you will see,6                            5
They do in weight but not in bulk agree.7
So atoms: some are8 soft, others more knit,
According as each atom’s figurèd.9
Atoms whose forms are hollow, long, and round10
Bend more than flat11 or sharp, which close are bound.12  10
And being hollow, they are spread more thin
Than other atoms which are close within.
And atoms which are thin are softer much,13
When atoms close are of a harder touch.14

Motion Is According to the Figure.


A figure spherical, the motion’s so;2
Straight figures in a darting motion go:3
As several figures in small atoms be,
So several motions are, if we could see.
If atoms join, meet in another form,4                      5
Then motion alters as the figures turn,5
For if the bodies weighty are and great,6
Then motion’s slow, and goes upon less feet.7
Out of a shuttlecock a feather pull,
And flying strike it, as when it was full,                 10
The motion of it alters, which seems strange,8
When th’motion of the hand doth no ways change.9
Yet motion, matter,10 can new figures find,
And the substantial figures turn and wind.
Thus several figures several motions take,             15
And several motions several figures make.
But figure, matter, motion, all is one,
Can never11 separate, nor be alone.

Vacuum in Atoms

If all the atoms, long, sharp, flat, and round,
Be only of one sort of matter found,
The hollow atoms must all empty be,
For there is nought to fill vacuity.
Besides1 being several bodies, though but small,                 5
Betwixt those bodies there is nought at all.
For as they range about from place to place,
Betwixt2 their bodies there is left a space.
How should they move, having no space between?3
For, joining close, they would as one lump seem.4             10
Nor could they move into each other’s place,5
Unless there were somewhere an empty space.6
For though their matter’s infinite as time,7
They must be fixed, if altogether join.8
And were all matter fluid, as some say,                                 15
It could not move, having no empty way.
Like water that is stopped close in a glass:
It cannot stir, having no way to pass.
Nor could the fishes swim in water thin,
Were there no vacuum9 to crowd those10 waters in.          20
For as they crowd, those waters driven up high11
Must to some places rise12 that empty lie.
For though the water’s thin wherein they move,
Yet none could13 stir if water did not shove.

A World Made by Four Kinds of Atoms



Sharp atoms make fire2 subtle, quick, and dry;
The long, like shafts still into air do fly;3
The round to water moist (a hollow form),4
The figure square to heavy dull earth turn.5
The atoms sharp hard6 minerals do make;                          5
Soft vegetables of round atoms7 take.
In animals none singly lie alone,
But all8 four atoms9 meet and join as one.
And thus four atoms10 the substance are11 of all,
With their four figures12 make a worldly ball.                  10

Thus the fancy of my atoms is that the four principle figures, as sharp, long, round, and square,13 make the four elements. Not that they are of several matters, but are all14 of one matter,15 only their several figures do give them several properties; so likewise do the mixed figures give them mixed properties, and their several composures give16 them other properties, according to their forms they put themselves into by their several motions. This I do repeat that the ground of my opinion may be understood.

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.

The Traffic betwixt the Sun and the Earth



Tis thought an unctuous matter comes from2 the sun
In streaming3 beams, which Earth doth feed upon,
And that the Earth by them, when they ascend,4
Unto the sun a nourishment doth send.5
And so each6 beam the sun doth make a chain,                         5
Which brings down food and draws food7 back again.
Or we may well those beams to ships compare,8
Where each is laden with the richest ware.9
Each ship10 is fraught with heat; through air it sails11
And brings this heat to th’Earth, which never fails12              10
By traffic’s laws equal returns to make,13
And sends instead of heat moist vapor back.14
Great danger is, if ships be overfraught,15
For many times they sink with their own weight:16
And17 those gilt ships such fate18 do19 often find,                         15
They sink with too much weight or split with wind.