’Tis several figured atoms that make change,
When several bodies meet as they do range.
For if they sympathize and do agree,
They join together, as one body be.
But if they meet, like to a rabble rout, 5
Without all order running in and out,
Then disproportionable things they make,
Because they did not their right places take.
Atoms which loosely join do not remain
So long as those which closeness do maintain.
Those make all things i’th’world to ebb and flow,
According as the moving atoms go.
Others in bodies, they do join so close, 5
As in long time, they never stir nor loose.
And some will join so close and knit so fast,
As if unstirred they would forever last.
In smallest vegetables, loosest atoms lie,
Which is the reason they so quickly die. 10
In animals, much closer they are laid,
Which is the cause their life is longer stayed.
Some vegetables and animals do join
In equal strength, if atoms so combine.
But animals, where atoms close lie in, 15
Are stronger than some vegetables thin.
But in vegetables, where atoms do stick fast,
As in strong trees, the longer they do last.
In minerals, they so together cleave,
As they not any space for motion leave. 20
Being pointed all, the closer they do lie,
Which makes them not like vegetables die.
Those bodies where loose atoms most move in,
Are soft and porous, and many times thin;
Those porous bodies never do live long. 25
Why so? Loose atoms never can be strong.
For motion’s power tosseth them about,
Keeps them from their right places: so life goes out.
In every brain there do loose atoms lie,
Those which are sharp, from them do fancies fly.
Long airy atoms nimble are, and free,
But atoms round and square are dull and sleepy.
If atoms all are of the selfsame matter,
As fire, air, earth, and water,
Then must their several figures make all change
By motion’s help, which orders as they range.
Motion the sharpest atoms doth mount high,
And like to arrows swift, doth make them fly.
And being sharp and swift, they pierce so deep,
As they pass through all atoms as they meet.
By their swift motion, to bright fire they turn, 5
And being sharp, they pierce, which we call “burn.”
Those atoms which are long, sharp at each end,
Stream forth like air in flame, which light doth send.
For flame doth flow as if it fluid were,
Which shows part of that figure is like air.
Thus flame is joined, two figures into one, 5
But fire without flame is sharp alone.
Although we at a distance stand, if great
A fire be, the body through will heat.
Yet those sharp atomes we do not perceive,
How they fly out, nor how to us they cleave.
Nor do they flame, nor shine they clear and bright 5
When they fly out and on our bodies strike.
The reason is they loose and scattered fly,
And not in troops, nor do they on heaps lie.
Like small dust rais’d, which, scatter’d all about,
We see it not, nor doth it light keep out. 10
But gathered up thick to a mountain high,
We then see they in solid earth do lie.
Just so do atoms sharp look, clear and bright,
When in heaps lie, or in a streaming flight.
The reason fire lies in flint unseen
Is other figured atoms lie between.
For being bound and overpowered by
A multitude, they do in prison lie.
Unless motion do come and let them out 5
With a strong power, which make them fly about.
But if that flint be beat to powder small,
To separate the grossest, released are all.
And when they once are out, they ne’er come back,
But seek about another form to make. 10
Atoms by sympathy are fixèd so,
As past some principles they do not go.
For count the principles of all their works,
You’ll find there are not many several sorts.
For when they do dissolve and new forms make, 5
They still to their first principles do take.
All creatures, howsoe’er they may be named,
Are of long, square, flat, or sharp atoms framed.
Such sympathy there is in every figure,
That every several sort do flock together,
As air, water, earth, and fire,
Which make each element to be entire.
Not but loose atoms like sheep stray about, 5
And intoseveral places go in and out,
And some as sheep and kine do mix together,
Which when they mix, ’tis several change of weather.
But Motion as their shepherd drives them so,
As not to let them out of order go. 10