Of Fire in the Flint

The reason fire lies1 in flint unseen
Is other figured atoms lie2 between.
For being bound and overpowered by
A multitude, they do in prison lie.
Unless motion do come and let3 them out                           5
With a strong power, which make them4 fly about.
But if that flint be beat to powder small,
To separate the grossest,5 released are all.
And6 when they once are out, they ne’er come back,7
But seek about another form to make.8                               10

What Atoms make Vegetables, Minerals, and Animals

The branchèd atoms form each planted thing:
The hooked points pull out, and make1 them spring;
The atoms round give juice, the sharp give heat,2
And those grow herbs, and fruits, and flowers sweet.3
Those that are square and flat, not rough withal,                5
Make those which stone and minerals we call.
But in all stones and minerals (no doubt)
Sharp points do lie, which fiery sparks4 strike out.
Thus vegetables and minerals do5 grow
According as the several atoms go.                                         10
In animals all figures do agree,
But in mankind the best of atoms be.
And thus, for ought we know, the world’s whole frame6
May last unto eternity the same.7

What Atoms Make Heat and Cold

Such kind of atoms which1 make heat, make cold,
Like pincers sharp that2 nip and do take hold.
But atoms that are pointed sharp pierce through,3
And atoms which are sharp and4 hooked pull to.
Yet all must into pointed figures turn,                                 5
For atoms blunt will never freeze nor burn.
’Cause blunt figures do to a soft form5 bend,
And soft do6 unto wet or liquid tend.

What Atoms Make Fire Burn, and What Flame

1

What makes a spark of fire to burn more quick
Than a great flame? Because ’tis small to stick.
For fire itself is in its nature dry,2
Falls into parts as crowds of atoms lie.
The sharpest atoms keep the body hot;                                 5
To give out heat some atoms forth are shot.
Sometimes the sparks for anger fly about,3
Or, wanting room, do thrust the weakest4out.
They are so sharp, that what they meet, devour56
If other atoms them not overpower:7                                    10
As ants, though8 small, will eat up a dead horse,
So atoms sharp use9 bodies of less force.
Thus atoms sharp grow10 sharper by degrees,
As stings in flies are not so sharp as bees’.
And when they meet a body solid, flat,                                 15
The weakest fly; the sharpest work on that.
Those that are not so sharp do fly about
To seek some lighter matter to eat11 out.
Thus12 lighter atoms do turn air13 to flame,
Because more thin and porous is the same.                         20
Thus flame is not so hot as burning coal:14
The atoms are too weak to take fast hold.15
The sharpest into firmest bodies fly,
But if their strength be small, they quickly die.
Or if their number be not great, but small,                          25
The blunter atoms beat and quench out all.

Atoms and Motion Fall out.

When Motion and all atoms disagree,
Thunder in skies1 and sickness in men be.
Earthquakes and winds, which make disorder great,
Are when as Motion doth all atoms2 beat.
In this confusion, a horrid noise they make,3                5
For Motion lets them not their places4 take,
Like frighted flocks that do together keep,5
Which Motion worries, as a wolf doth sheep.6

Motion Directs, While Atoms Dance.

Atoms will in just measures dance, and join1
All one by one in a2 round circle-line,3
Run in and out, as we do dance the hay,
Crossing about, yet keep just time and way,
While4 Motion doth direct. And thus they dance,5     5
And meet all by consent, not by mere chance.6
This harmony is health, makes life live long,7
But when they’re out,8 ’tis death, so dancing’s done.

The Difference of Atoms and Motion in Youth and Age

In all things which are young, Motion is swift,1
But moving long, is2 tired and groweth stiff.3
So4 atoms are in youth more nimble, strong5
Than6 in old age, but apt more7 to go wrong.
Thus youth by false notes and wrong steps doth die;     5
In age atoms and Motion weary lie.8
Motion’s ease is change, weary soon doth grow,9
If in one figure she doth often go.10

Motion Makes Atoms a Bawd for Figure.

Did not wild Motion, with his subtle wit,1
Make atoms as his bawd, new forms to get,2
They still would constant be in one figure,3
And as they place themselves, would last forever.4
But Motion, he persuades new forms to make,           5
Because he5 doth in change great pleasure take,
And makes all atoms run from place to place,
That figures young he might have to embrace.
For some short time he loves to make a stay,6
But after he is tired, he’ll run away.7                            10
And by his change most figures are8 undone,
For young take place of th’old when they are gone.9
Yet ’tis but like a batch of bread, which still10
Is of the same flower and seed. Thus will11
Inconstant Motion a new figure bake,12                       15
Only that he may13 have a new hot cake.

Motion Is According to the Figure.

1

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.