Of Fire and Flame


Although we at a distance stand, if great
A fire be, the body through1 will heat.
Yet those sharp atomes we do not perceive,
How they fly out, nor how to us they cleave.2
Nor do they3 flame, nor shine they clear and bright       5
When they fly out and on our bodies strike.4
The reason is they loose and scattered fly,
And not in troops, nor do they on heaps lie.
Like small dust rais’d, which,5 scatter’d all about,
We see it not, nor doth it light keep6 out.                         10
But gathered up thick7 to a mountain high,
We then see they in solid earth do8 lie.
Just so do atoms sharp look, clear and bright,
When in heaps lie,9 or in a streaming flight.

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 Fire Burn, and What Flame


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.

What Atoms Make the Sun and the Sea Go Round

The1 pointed atoms all to fire do2 turn,

And being sharp, do pierce, which we call burn.3
But by their dryness they become so light4
As they do get above the rest in flight,5
Where6 by consent a wheel of fire they make,7              5
Which being spherical, doth round motion take.8
This motion makes round9 atoms turn about,
Which atoms round are water, without doubt,
And10 makes the sea go round, like11 watermill,
For as the sun, so water turns round12 still.                    10

Of the Motion of the Sea

If as we see the sea1 doth run about
The earth, it leaves a space where’t first came out.2
For if the water were as much as land,34
The water5 would not stir, but still would6 stand.
Which shows that though the water doth go7 round, 5
Yet is there still more land than8 water9 found.
But say the air that’s moveable without,
And10 thin, doth give it11 leave to run about,
Or like a wheel which water makes to go:12
So air may cause the sea to move and13 flow.14          10
But if that air hath15 not room to move,
It cannot16 any other body shove.
Besides, what drives must needs be stronger far17
Than what it drives, or else it would not stir.18
If so, then infinites of strengths must be19                   15
In motion’s power, to move eternally.
But say all things run in a circle-line,20
And every part doth to another21 join:
They cannot in each other’s places stir,22
Unless23 some places be24 left empty bare.25               20
For stop a wheel’s circumference26 without,
Its27 center too, it cannot turn about.
If breadth and depth were full, leaving no space,
Nothing could stir nor move out of its28 place.29

Of Vapor

Loose and sharp atoms,12 which do rove3 about,
To porous atoms stick and draw them4 out
From those5 more close, for these67 do highest lie:
Thus vapor’s drawn toward8 the region high.
But since they of an equal weight are all,9                             5
For want of strength they cause them back to fall.10

Of Dews and Mists Coming from the Earth


Some atoms sharp thrust from the Earth some round,
And then a pearlèd dew lies on the ground.
But if on their sharp points they bear them2 high,
They,3 being raised, a mist make in the sky.4
On the circumference of the5 Earth there lies                    5
The loosest atoms, which are6 apt to rise;
Though not so high as them the sun may burn,7
For being dull, they back to Earth return.
As water, which is shoved with force of strength
Is not so apt to move, as run at length.                               10

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.