The reason fire lies in flint unseen
Is other figured atoms lie between.
For being bound and overpowered by
A multitude, they do in prison lie.
Unless motion do come and let them out 5
With a strong power, which make them fly about.
But if that flint be beat to powder small,
To separate the grossest, released are all.
And when they once are out, they ne’er come back,
But seek about another form to make. 10
The branchèd atoms form each planted thing:
The hooked points pull out, and make them spring;
The atoms round give juice, the sharp give heat,
And those grow herbs, and fruits, and flowers sweet.
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 sparks strike out.
Thus vegetables and minerals do 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 frame
May last unto eternity the same.
Such kind of atoms which make heat, make cold,
Like pincers sharp that nip and do take hold.
But atoms that are pointed sharp pierce through,
And atoms which are sharp and 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 form bend,
And soft do unto wet or liquid tend.
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,
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,
Or, wanting room, do thrust the weakestout.
They are so sharp, that what they meet, devour
If other atoms them not overpower: 10
As ants, though small, will eat up a dead horse,
So atoms sharp use bodies of less force.
Thus atoms sharp grow 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 eat out.
Thus lighter atoms do turn air to flame,
Because more thin and porous is the same. 20
Thus flame is not so hot as burning coal:
The atoms are too weak to take fast hold.
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.
When Motion and all atoms disagree,
Thunder in skies and sickness in men be.
Earthquakes and winds, which make disorder great,
Are when as Motion doth all atoms beat.
In this confusion, a horrid noise they make, 5
For Motion lets them not their places take,
Like frighted flocks that do together keep,
Which Motion worries, as a wolf doth sheep.
Some Motion with some atoms doth agree,
Fitting them to their place, as just may be,
Where they by Motion’s help so strong do grow,
That hardly Motion shall again undo.
Motion’s inconstancy oft gives such power 5
To atoms, as they can Motion devour.
Atoms will in just measures dance, and join
All one by one in a round circle-line,
Run in and out, as we do dance the hay,
Crossing about, yet keep just time and way,
While Motion doth direct. And thus they dance, 5
And meet all by consent, not by mere chance.
This harmony is health, makes life live long,
But when they’re out, ’tis death, so dancing’s done.
In all things which are young, Motion is swift,
But moving long, is tired and groweth stiff.
So atoms are in youth more nimble, strong
Than in old age, but apt more to go wrong.
Thus youth by false notes and wrong steps doth die; 5
In age atoms and Motion weary lie.
Motion’s ease is change, weary soon doth grow,
If in one figure she doth often go.
Did not wild Motion, with his subtle wit,
Make atoms as his bawd, new forms to get,
They still would constant be in one figure,
And as they place themselves, would last forever.
But Motion, he persuades new forms to make, 5
Because he 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,
But after he is tired, he’ll run away. 10
And by his change most figures are undone,
For young take place of th’old when they are gone.
Yet ’tis but like a batch of bread, which still
Is of the same flower and seed. Thus will
Inconstant Motion a new figure bake, 15
Only that he may have a new hot cake.
A figure spherical, the motion’s so;
Straight figures in a darting motion go:
As several figures in small atoms be,
So several motions are, if we could see.
If atoms join, meet in another form, 5
Then motion alters as the figures turn,
For if the bodies weighty are and great,
Then motion’s slow, and goes upon less feet.
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,
When th’motion of the hand doth no ways change.
Yet motion, matter, 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 never separate, nor be alone.