The Quenching out and Smothering of Heat and Light Doth Not Change the Property nor Shape of Sharp Atoms.


’Tis not that atoms sharp have alterèd2
Their form when fire’s put out, but motion’s fled.3
Which being4 gone,5 sharp atoms cannot prick,
Having no force in any thing to stick.
For as the sun, if6 motion moved it not,                                     5
Would7 neither shine, nor be to us so hot,
Just so, when creatures die, their form’s not gone,8
But motion, which gave life, away is flown.910
For animal spirits, which we life do call,
Are only of the sharpest atoms small.                                        10
Thus life is atoms sharp, which we call fire;
When those are stopped or quenched,11 life doth expire.

Of a Burning Coal


The cause a coal doth2 set a house on fire
Is atoms sharp are in that coal entire.
Being strong armed with points, do quite pierce through3
Those flat dull atoms, and4 their forms5 undo.
And atoms sharp, whose form is made for flight,              5
If loose, do run to help the rest in fight,
For like as6 soldiers which are of one side,
When they see7 friends engaged, to rescue ride.8
But atoms flat, where motion is but slow,
They cannot fight, but straight to ashes go.                        10

The Increasing and Decreasing of Visible Fire

Fire being kindled first appears1 but small,
But growing strong, it wastes and burns up2 all.
Just like a crow, that on a dead horse lights:
When other crows perceive it3 in their flights,
They straight invite themselves unto that feast,             5
And thus4 from one, to numbers are increased.
So atoms sharp which singly fly about
Join with the rest to eat the fuel out.
And as the fuel doth increase, so5 they,
And as it wastes, so they do6 fly away.7                           10

Of Burning, Why It Causes Pain


The reason why fire burns,2 and burning smarts,
Is that it hath so many3 little parts—
Which parts are atoms sharp, and wound more fierce4
If they so far into our skins do pierce—5
And like an angry porcupine, doth shoot6                             5
His7 fiery quills, if nothing quench them out.
Their figure makes their motion nimble, quick,8
And being sharp, they do like9 needles prick.
If they do pierce too deep,10 our flesh will11 ache;
If they but12 touch the skin,13 we pleasure take;                 10
That kind of pain we do14 a “burning” call.
These atoms numerous are,15 and very small,
And make from needles’ points16 a different touch,
Whose17 points are gross, and numbers not so much,
And18 cannot lie so close, nor19 spread so thin,                   15
All at one time to enter through our skin.20

The Reason Water Quenches Fire

The reason fire by water is quenched1 out
Is that round atoms do2 put to a rout
The sharp,3 for when a house on fire is set,4
Then atoms sharp are5 in great armies met,6
Where they themselves range into7 ranks and files,          5
And strive always to havoc and make spoils,
Running about as nimble as may be8
From side to side, as in great fires9 we see.
But atoms round do like a rescue come,1011
And separate the sharp, which in heaps run.12                  10
For being separate, they have no force,
Like to a troop or regiment of horse,
Which when great cannon bullets are shot through,
They disunite, and quite their strength undo.
So water that is thrown on flaming fire                               15
Doth separate and make that strength expire.

All Sharp Atoms Do Run to the Center, and Those that Settle Not, by Reason of the Straightness of the Place, Fly out to the Circumference. Sharp Atoms Running to the Center Make a Sun.


All atoms sharp to every center fly,
And in the midst of th’Earth and2 planets lie,
And in those planets there are centers too,3
Where the sharp atoms with quick motion go.
And to the center of the Earth they run,                 5
There gathering close, and so become a sun.4
This is the ax whereon the Earth turns round,
And gives the heat which in the Earth is found;
A world of fire: thus may we guess the sun,
If all sharp atoms to the center run.                         10
For why the sun amongst the planets round,
Just as a center, in the midst is found.
And fixèd stars, which give a twinkling light
Are center-worlds5 of fire, which do shine6 bright.

Of Cold Winds

As water rarified doth make1 winds blow,
So winds when rarified2 do colder grow.
For if they thin are3 rarified, then they
Do further blow, and spread out every way.
So cold they are, and sharp as needle points,4                          5
For by the thinness breaks and disunites,5
Into such6 atoms fall, sharp figures be,7
Which porous bodies pierce, if we could8 see.
Yet some will think, if air were parted so
The winds could not have such strong force to blow.             10
’Tis true, if atoms all were blunt and flat,9
Or round like rings, they could not pierce, but pat.10
But by dividing, they so sharp do grow,11
That12 through all porous bodies they do go.13
But when the winds are soft, they intermix,                             15
As water doth, and in one body fix.
They rather14 wave than blow as fans are spread,
Which ladies use to cool their cheeks when red,
Or like as water drops that disunite15
Feel harder than when mixed they16 on us light,                     20
Unless such streams upon our heads do17 run,
As we a shelter seek, the wet to shun.
But when a drop congealèd is with cold,
As hailstones are, then it more strength18 doth hold.
For19 flakes of snow may have more quantity                          25
Than hailstones, yet not have more20 force thereby.
They fall so soft that they scarce21 strike our touch;
Hailstones we feel and know their weight too much.
But figures that are flat are dull and slow,
Make weak impressions22 wheresoe’er they go.                      30
For let ten times the quantity of steel
Be beaten thin,23 no hurt by that you’ll feel.
But if that one will take a needle small,
Whose point is sharp, and prick24 the flesh withal,
Straight it shall hurt, and put the flesh to pain,                        35
Which greater strength doth not of what is25 plain.
For though26 you press it hard against the skin,
’T may27 heavy feel, but cannot28 enter in.
And so29 the wind that’s thin and30 rarified
May press31 us down, but never32 pierce the side.                   40
Or take a blade that’s flat, though strong and great,
And with great strength upon one’s head it33 beat:
You’ll break the skull, but not knock out his34 brains,
Which arrows sharp soon do, and with less pains.
Thus what is small is subtler and more35 quick,                       45
For all small points36 in porous bodies stick.
Winds broken small to atoms, when they37 blow,
Are colder much than when they38 streaming flow,
For all which knit39 and united close40
Much stronger are, and give41 the harder blows.                     50
This shows what’s closest in itself42 to be,
Although an atom in43 its small degree.
Take quantity, for quantity alike,
Union44 more than mixture hard shall strike.