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.

The Reason of the Roaring of the Sea

All water’s spherical; when tides do flow,
Beat all those spherical drops as they do go.1
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.

Thunder is a Wind in the Middle Region.

Who knows, but thunders are great winds which lie
Within the middle vault above the sky?
Which wind1 the sun on2 moisture cold begot,
When he was3 in his region Cancer hot.
This child4 is thin and subtle, made by heat;                    5
Its voice is strong5 and makes a noise that’s great.
Its thinness makes it agile, agile strong,
And6 by its force doth drive the clouds along.
And when the clouds do meet, they each do strike,
Flashing out fire, as do flints7 the like.                              10
Thus in the summer thunder’s caused by wind,
For vapor drawn up8 high no way can find9
To pass; in winter time,10 when clouds11 are loose,
Then doth the wind on Earth keep rendezvous.


Of the Sound and Echo



A sound2 seems nothing, yet a while it lives,3
And like a wanton lad, mock answers gives,4
Not like the souls that from the bodies5 go,
For echo hath a body6 of air, we know.
But7 strange it8 is that sounds9 so strong and clear              5
Resisting bodies have, yet10 not appear,
But11 air, which subtle is, encounter may:
Thus words as sounds may with self-echo12 play.
But they grow weary soon, hold not13 out long,
Seem14 out of breath, and falter with the tongue.               10

Of Shadow and Echo

A shadow fell in love with the1 bright light,
Which makes her walk perpetually2 in his3 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 body4 appear.
She hates to see or show herself to men,
Unless Narcissus could live once5 again.
But these two souls (for they no bodies have)6
Do wander in the air to seek a grave.                       10
Silence would bury one,7 the other night;
Both are8 denied by Repercussion’s9 spite.
And each of these are subject to the sense:10
One strikes the ear, shadow the eye presents.11

A World in an Earring

An earring round may well a zodiac1 be,
Wherein a sun goes round, which we don’t2 see;
And planets seven about that sun may move,
And he stand still, as learnèd men3 would prove;
And fixed stars like twinkling diamonds, placed                   5
About this earring, which a world is, vast.
That same which doth the earring hold, the hole,
Is that we call the North and Southern Pole;4
There nipping frosts may be, and winters5 cold,
Yet never on the lady’s ear take hold.                                      10
And lightning,6 thunder, and great winds may blow
Within this earring, yet the ear not know.
Fish there may swim in seas, which ebb and flow,7
And islands be, wherein do spices grow;8
There crystal rocks hang dangling at each ear,                     15
And golden mines as jewels may they wear.
There earthquakes9 be, which mountains vast down fling,
And yet ne’er stir the lady’s ear, nor ring.
There meadows10 be, and pastures fresh and green,
And cattle feed, and yet be never seen,                                   20
And gardens fresh,11 and birds which sweetly sing,
Although we hear them not in an earring.
There12 night and day, and heat and cold, and so13
May14 life and death, and young and old still grow.15
Thus16 youth may spring, and several ages die;                    25
Great plagues may be, and no infections17 nigh.
There cities18 be, and stately houses19 built,
Their20 inside gay, and finely may be gilt.
There churches be,21 wherein priests teach and sing,22
And steeples23 too, yet hear the bells not ring.                      30
From thence may pious tears to Heaven run,24
And yet the ear not know which way they’re gone.
There markets be,25 where things are26 bought and sold,
Though th’ear knows not the price their27 markets hold.
There governors do28 rule, and kings do29 reign,                  35
And battles fought, where many may be30 slain.
And all within the compass of this ring,
Whence they no31 tidings to the wearer bring.
Within the32 ring, wise counsellors may sit,
And yet the ear not one wise word may get.                           40
There may be dancing all night at a ball,
And yet the ear be not disturbed at all.
There rivals33 duels fight, where some are slain;
There34 lovers mourn, yet hear them not complain.
And Death may dig a lover’s grave: thus were                        45
A lover dead in a fair lady’s ear.
But when the ring is broke, the world is done;
Then lovers they into Elysium run.35