Now learn of what remains! More keenly hear! And for myself, my mind is not deceived How dark it is: But the large hope of praise Hath strook with pointed thyrsus through my heart; On the same hour hath strook into my breast Sweet love of the Muses, wherewith now instinct, I wander afield, thriving in sturdy thought, Through unpathed haunts of the Pierides, Trodden by step of none before. I joy To come on undefiled fountains there, To drain them deep; I joy to pluck new flowers, To seek for this my head a signal crown From regions where the Muses never yet Have garlanded the temples of a man: First, since I teach concerning mighty things, And go right on to loose from round the mind The tightened coils of dread religion; Next, since, concerning themes so dark, I frame Songs so pellucid, touching all throughout Even with the Muses' charm—which, as 'twould seem, Is not without a reasonable ground: But as physicians, when they seek to give Young boys the nauseous wormwood, first do touch The brim around the cup with the sweet juice And yellow of the honey, in order that The thoughtless age of boyhood be cajoled As far as the lips, and meanwhile swallow down The wormwood's bitter draught, and, though befooled, Be yet not merely duped, but rather thus Grow strong again with recreated health: So now I too (since this my doctrine seems In general somewhat woeful unto those Who've had it not in hand, and since the crowd Starts back from it in horror) have desired To expound our doctrine unto thee in song Soft-speaking and Pierian, and, as 'twere, To touch it with sweet honey of the Muse— If by such method haply I might hold The mind of thee upon these lines of ours, Till thou see through the nature of all things, And how exists the interwoven frame. But since I've taught that bodies of matter, made Completely solid, hither and thither fly Forevermore unconquered through all time, Now come, and whether to the sum of them There be a limit or be none, for thee Let us unfold; likewise what has been found To be the wide inane, or room, or space Wherein all things soever do go on, Let us examine if it finite be All and entire, or reach unmeasured round And downward an illimitable profound. Thus, then, the All that is is limited In no one region of its onward paths, For then 'tmust have forever its beyond. And a beyond 'tis seen can never be For aught, unless still further on there be A somewhat somewhere that may bound the same— So that the thing be seen still on to where The nature of sensation of that thing Can follow it no longer. Now because Confess we must there's naught beside the sum, There's no beyond, and so it lacks all end. It matters nothing where thou post thyself, In whatsoever regions of the same; Even any place a man has set him down Still leaves about him the unbounded all Outward in all directions; or, supposing A moment the all of space finite to be, If some one farthest traveller runs forth Unto the extreme coasts and throws ahead A flying spear, is't then thy wish to think It goes, hurled off amain, to where 'twas sent And shoots afar, or that some object there Can thwart and stop it? For the one or other Thou must admit and take. Either of which Shuts off escape for thee, and does compel That thou concede the all spreads everywhere, Owning no confines. Since whether there be Aught that may block and check it so it comes Not where 'twas sent, nor lodges in its goal, Or whether borne along, in either view 'Thas started not from any end. And so I'll follow on, and whereso'er thou set The extreme coasts, I'll query, "what becomes Thereafter of thy spear?" 'Twill come to pass That nowhere can a world's-end be, and that The chance for further flight prolongs forever The flight itself. Besides, were all the space Of the totality and sum shut in With fixed coasts, and bounded everywhere, Then would the abundance of world's matter flow Together by solid weight from everywhere Still downward to the bottom of the world, Nor aught could happen under cope of sky, Nor could there be a sky at all or sun— Indeed, where matter all one heap would lie, By having settled during infinite time. But in reality, repose is given Unto no bodies 'mongst the elements, Because there is no bottom whereunto They might, as 'twere, together flow, and where They might take up their undisturbed abodes. In endless motion everything goes on Forevermore; out of all regions, even Out of the pit below, from forth the vast, Are hurtled bodies evermore supplied. The nature of room, the space of the abyss Is such that even the flashing thunderbolts Can neither speed upon their courses through, Gliding across eternal tracts of time, Nor, further, bring to pass, as on they run, That they may bate their journeying one whit: Such huge abundance spreads for things around— Room off to every quarter, without end. Lastly, before our very eyes is seen Thing to bound thing: air hedges hill from hill, And mountain walls hedge air; land ends the sea, And sea in turn all lands; but for the All Truly is nothing which outside may bound. That, too, the sum of things itself may not Have power to fix a measure of its own, Great nature guards, she who compels the void To bound all body, as body all the void, Thus rendering by these alternates the whole An infinite; or else the one or other, Being unbounded by the other, spreads, Even by its single nature, ne'ertheless Immeasurably forth.... Nor sea, nor earth, nor shining vaults of sky, Nor breed of mortals, nor holy limbs of gods Could keep their place least portion of an hour: For, driven apart from out its meetings fit, The stock of stuff, dissolved, would be borne Along the illimitable inane afar, Or rather, in fact, would ne'er have once combined And given a birth to aught, since, scattered wide, It could not be united. For of truth Neither by counsel did the primal germs 'Stablish themselves, as by keen act of mind, Each in its proper place; nor did they make, Forsooth, a compact how each germ should move; But since, being many and changed in many modes Along the All, they're driven abroad and vexed By blow on blow, even from all time of old, They thus at last, after attempting all The kinds of motion and conjoining, come Into those great arrangements out of which This sum of things established is create, By which, moreover, through the mighty years, It is preserved, when once it has been thrown Into the proper motions, bringing to pass That ever the streams refresh the greedy main With river-waves abounding, and that earth, Lapped in warm exhalations of the sun, Renews her broods, and that the lusty race Of breathing creatures bears and blooms, and that The gliding fires of ether are alive— What still the primal germs nowise could do, Unless from out the infinite of space Could come supply of matter, whence in season They're wont whatever losses to repair. For as the nature of breathing creatures wastes, Losing its body, when deprived of food: So all things have to be dissolved as soon As matter, diverted by what means soever From off its course, shall fail to be on hand. Nor can the blows from outward still conserve, On every side, whatever sum of a world Has been united in a whole. They can Indeed, by frequent beating, check a part, Till others arriving may fulfil the sum; But meanwhile often are they forced to spring Rebounding back, and, as they spring, to yield, Unto those elements whence a world derives, Room and a time for flight, permitting them To be from off the massy union borne Free and afar. Wherefore, again, again: Needs must there come a many for supply; And also, that the blows themselves shall be Unfailing ever, must there ever be An infinite force of matter all sides round. And in these problems, shrink, my Memmius, far From yielding faith to that notorious talk: That all things inward to the centre press; And thus the nature of the world stands firm With never blows from outward, nor can be Nowhere disparted—since all height and depth Have always inward to the centre pressed (If thou art ready to believe that aught Itself can rest upon itself ); or that The ponderous bodies which be under earth Do all press upwards and do come to rest Upon the earth, in some way upside down, Like to those images of things we see At present through the waters. They contend, With like procedure, that all breathing things Head downward roam about, and yet cannot Tumble from earth to realms of sky below, No more than these our bodies wing away Spontaneously to vaults of sky above; That, when those creatures look upon the sun, We view the constellations of the night; And that with us the seasons of the sky They thus alternately divide, and thus Do pass the night coequal to our days, But a vain error has given these dreams to fools, Which they've embraced with reasoning perverse For centre none can be where world is still Boundless, nor yet, if now a centre were, Could aught take there a fixed position more Than for some other cause 'tmight be dislodged. For all of room and space we call the void Must both through centre and non-centre yield Alike to weights where'er their motions tend. Nor is there any place, where, when they've come, Bodies can be at standstill in the void, Deprived of force of weight; nor yet may void Furnish support to any,—nay, it must, True to its bent of nature, still give way. Thus in such manner not at all can things Be held in union, as if overcome By craving for a centre. But besides, Seeing they feign that not all bodies press To centre inward, rather only those Of earth and water (liquid of the sea, And the big billows from the mountain slopes, And whatsoever are encased, as 'twere, In earthen body), contrariwise, they teach How the thin air, and with it the hot fire, Is borne asunder from the centre, and how, For this all ether quivers with bright stars, And the sun's flame along the blue is fed (Because the heat, from out the centre flying, All gathers there), and how, again, the boughs Upon the tree-tops could not sprout their leaves, Unless, little by little, from out the earth For each were nutriment... Lest, after the manner of the winged flames, The ramparts of the world should flee away, Dissolved amain throughout the mighty void, And lest all else should likewise follow after, Aye, lest the thundering vaults of heaven should burst And splinter upward, and the earth forthwith Withdraw from under our feet, and all its bulk, Among its mingled wrecks and those of heaven, With slipping asunder of the primal seeds, Should pass, along the immeasurable inane, Away forever, and, that instant, naught Of wrack and remnant would be left, beside The desolate space, and germs invisible. For on whatever side thou deemest first The primal bodies lacking, lo, that side Will be for things the very door of death: Wherethrough the throng of matter all will dash, Out and abroad. These points, if thou wilt ponder, Then, with but paltry trouble led along... For one thing after other will grow clear, Nor shall the blind night rob thee of the road, To hinder thy gaze on nature's Farthest-forth. Thus things for things shall kindle torches new.