If that the sun so like a candle is
That all the air doth take a light from his—
Not by reflection, but by kindling all
That part, which we our hemisphere do call—
If so, the air whereon his light is cast 5
Would ne’er go out, unless that substance waste.
Or ’less the sun extinguishers should throw
Upon the air, to cause light out to go.
But sure the sun’s reflection gives the light,
For when he’s gone, to us it is dark night. 10
And why? The sun is atoms sharp entire,
Which wedged in round, do make a wheel of fire.
About this wheel continually do flow
Sharp streaming atoms, which like flame do show.
And in this flame the Earth itself doth see, 15
As in a glass, as clear as e’er may be.
But when the Earth doth turn aside its face,
It is not seen, but darkness doth take place.
Or when the moon doth come betwixt that light,
Then is the Earth shut up as in dark night. 20
’Tis not that atoms sharp have alterèd
Their form when fire’s put out, but motion’s fled.
Which being gone, sharp atoms cannot prick,
Having no force in any thing to stick.
For as the sun, if motion moved it not, 5
Would neither shine, nor be to us so hot,
Just so, when creatures die, their form’s not gone,
But motion, which gave life, away is flown.
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, life doth expire.
When crowds of atoms meet, not joinèd close,
By Motion quick they give each other blows.
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.
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 do 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 great noise when in a multitude.
All water’s spherical; when tides do flow,
Beat all those spherical drops as they do go.
So winds do strike those wat’ry drops together,
Which we at sea do call tempestuous weather.
And being spherical and cymbal-like, 5
They make a sound when each ’gainst other strike.
Who knows, but thunders are great winds which lie
Within the middle vault above the sky?
Which wind the sun on moisture cold begot,
When he was in his region Cancer hot.
This child is thin and subtle, made by heat; 5
Its voice is strong and makes a noise that’s great.
Its thinness makes it agile, agile strong,
And by its force doth drive the clouds along.
And when the clouds do meet, they each do strike,
Flashing out fire, as do flints the like. 10
Thus in the summer thunder’s caused by wind,
For vapor drawn up high no way can find
To pass; in winter time, when clouds are loose,
Then doth the wind on Earth keep rendezvous.
The same motion which from the mouth doth move
Runs through the air, which we by echo prove.
As several letters in one word do join,
So several figures through the air combine.
The air is wax, words seal, and give the print, 5
And so an echo in the air do mint.
And while those figures last, they life maintain;
When motion wears them out, echo is slain.
As sugar in the mouth doth melt with taste,
So echo in the air itself doth waste. 10
Rebounds resisting substance must work on,
Both in itself, and what it beats upon,
For yielding bodies which do bow or break
Can ne’er rebound, nor like an echo speak.
Then every word of aïr forms a ball, 5
And every letter like a ball doth fall.
Words are condensèd air, which heard, do grow
As water which by cold doth turn to snow.
And as when snow is pressed hard balls become,
So words being pressed as balls do backward run. 10
A sound seems nothing, yet a while it lives,
And like a wanton lad, mock answers gives,
Not like the souls that from the bodies go,
For echo hath a body of air, we know.
But strange it is that sounds so strong and clear 5
Resisting bodies have, yet not appear,
But air, which subtle is, encounter may:
Thus words as sounds may with self-echo play.
But they grow weary soon, hold not out long,
Seem out of breath, and falter with the tongue. 10
A shadow fell in love with the bright light,
Which makes her walk perpetually in his sight.
And when he’s absent, then, poor soul, she dies,
But when he shows himself, her life revives.
She sister is to Echo loud and clear, 5
Whose voice is heard, but no body appear.
She hates to see or show herself to men,
Unless Narcissus could live once again.
But these two souls (for they no bodies have)
Do wander in the air to seek a grave. 10
Silence would bury one, the other night;
Both are denied by Repercussion’s spite.
And each of these are subject to the sense:
One strikes the ear, shadow the eye presents.
Some think no light would be without the eye;
’Tis true, a light our brain could not descry.
But if the eye makes light, and not the sun,
As well our touch may make the fire to burn.