Why’s earth not apt to move, but slow and dull?
Flat atoms have no vacuum, but are full.
That form admits no empty place to bide;
All parts are filled, having no hollow side.
And where no vacuum is, motion is slow, 5
Having no empty places for to go.
Though atomes all are small, as small may be,
Yet by their forms doth motion disagree.
For atoms sharp do make themselves a way,
Cutting through other atoms as they stray. 10
But atoms flat will dull and lazy lie,
Having no edge or point to make a way.
As darkness a privation is of light,
That’s when the optic nerve is stopped from sight,
So death is even a cessation in
Those forms and bodies wherein motions spin.
As light which cannot shine but in the eye, 5
So life doth only in a motion lie.
Thus life is out when motion leaves to be,
Like as an eye that’s shut no light can see.
Some think the world would fall and not hang so,
If it had any empty place to go.
One cannot think that vacuum is so vast
That the great world might in that gulf be cast.
But vacuum is like to a porous skin, 5
Where vapor doth go out and air comes in,
And since that vapor fills those places small,
We cannot think but they were empty all:
For were they all first full, they could not make
Room for succeeding atoms, place to take. 10
Wherefore, if atoms pass and repass through,
They needs must empty places have to go.
If as we see the sea doth run about
The earth, it leaves a space where’t first came out.
For if the water were as much as land,
The water would not stir, but still would stand.
Which shows that though the water doth go round, 5
Yet is there still more land than water found.
But say the air that’s moveable without,
And thin, doth give it leave to run about,
Or like a wheel which water makes to go:
So air may cause the sea to move and flow. 10
But if that air hath not room to move,
It cannot any other body shove.
Besides, what drives must needs be stronger far
Than what it drives, or else it would not stir.
If so, then infinites of strengths must be 15
In motion’s power, to move eternally.
But say all things run in a circle-line,
And every part doth to another join:
They cannot in each other’s places stir,
Unless some places be left empty bare. 20
For stop a wheel’s circumference without,
Its center too, it cannot turn about.
If breadth and depth were full, leaving no space,
Nothing could stir nor move out of its place.
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.
Besides being several bodies, though but small, 5
Betwixt those bodies there is nought at all.
For as they range about from place to place,
Betwixt their bodies there is left a space.
How should they move, having no space between?
For, joining close, they would as one lump seem. 10
Nor could they move into each other’s place,
Unless there were somewhere an empty space.
For though their matter’s infinite as time,
They must be fixed, if altogether join.
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 vacuum to crowd those waters in. 20
For as they crowd, those waters driven up high
Must to some places rise that empty lie.
For though the water’s thin wherein they move,
Yet none could stir if water did not shove.
Contracting and dilating of each part:
These are the chiefest works of Motion’s art.
But Motion can’t dilate nor yet contract
A body which is close, firm, and compact,
Unless at first an empty place be found, 5
Wherein to spread those compact bodies round.
Neither can matter fluid contract so close,
But by contracting it some place must lose.