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The Atomic Poems of Margaret (Lucas) Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, from her Poems, and Fancies, 1653, an electronic edition. Edited with an introduction by Leigh Tillman Partington

by Margaret Cavendish [Newcastle, Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of, 1624?-1674]

date: 1653
source publisher:
collection: Early Modern through the 18th Century

Table of Contents

<< Poem Poem >>
Cavendish, Margaret (Lucas).

The foure principall Figur'd Atomes make
the foure Elements, as Square, Round,
Long, and Sharpe.


THE Square flat Atomes, as dull Earth appeare,
The Atomes Round do make the Water cleere.
The Long streight Atomes like to Arrowes fly,
Mount next the points, and make the Aiery Skie;
The Sharpest Atomes do into Fire turne, [5]

Which by their peircing quality they burne:
That Figure makes them active, active, Light;
Which makes them get aboue the rest in flight;
And by this Figure they stick fast, and draw
Up other Atomes which are Round and Raw: [10]
As Waters are round drops, though nere so small,
Which shew that water is all sphæricall,

That Figure makes it spungy, spungy, wet,
For being hollow, softnesse doth beget.
And being soft, that makes it run about; [15]
More solid Atomes thrust it in, or out;
But sharpest Atomes have most power thereon,
To nip it up with Cold, or Heate to run.
But Atomes Flat, are heavy, dull, and slow,
And sinking downward to the bottome go: [20]
Those Figur'd Atomes are not active, Light,
Whereas the Longe are like the Sharp in flight.
For as the Sharpe do pierce, and get on high,
So do the long shoot streight, and evenly.
The Round are next the Flat, the Long next Round, [25]
Those which are sharp, are still the highest found:
The Flat turne all to Earth, which lye most low,
The Round, to Water cleer, which liquid flow.
The Long to Aire turne, from whence Clouds grow,
The Sharp to Fire turne, which hot doth glow, [30]
These Foure Figures foure Elements do make,
And as their Figures do incline, they take.
For those are perfect in themselves alone,
Not taking any shape, but what's their owne.
What Forme is else. must still take from each part, [35]
Either from Round, or Long, or Square, or Sharp;
As those that are like to Triangulars cut,
Part of three Figures in one Forme is put.
And those that bow and bend like to a Bow;
Like to the Round, and joynted Atomes shew. [40]
Those that are Branch'd, or those which crooked be,
You may both the Long, and sharp Figures see.

Thus severall Figures, severall tempers make,
But what is mixt, doth of the Four partake.