Once more, we all from seed celestial spring, To all is that same father, from whom earth, The fostering mother, as she takes the drops Of liquid moisture, pregnant bears her broods— The shining grains, and gladsome shrubs and trees, And bears the human race and of the wild The generations all, the while she yields The foods wherewith all feed their frames and lead The genial life and propagate their kind; Wherefore she owneth that maternal name, By old desert. What was before from earth, The same in earth sinks back, and what was sent From shores of ether, that, returning home, The vaults of sky receive. Nor thus doth death So far annihilate things that she destroys The bodies of matter; but she dissipates Their combinations, and conjoins anew One element with others; and contrives That all things vary forms and change their colours And get sensations and straight give them o'er. And thus may'st know it matters with what others And in what structure the primordial germs Are held together, and what motions they Among themselves do give and get; nor think That aught we see hither and thither afloat Upon the crest of things, and now a birth And straightway now a ruin, inheres at rest Deep in the eternal atoms of the world. Why, even in these our very verses here It matters much with what and in what order Each element is set: the same denote Sky, and the ocean, lands, and streams, and sun; The same, the grains, and trees, and living things. And if not all alike, at least the most— But what distinctions by positions wrought! And thus no less in things themselves, when once Around are changed the intervals between, The paths of matter, its connections, weights, Blows, clashings, motions, order, structure, shapes, The things themselves must likewise changed be. Now to true reason give thy mind for us. Since here strange truth is putting forth its might To hit thee in thine ears, a new aspect Of things to show its front. Yet naught there is So easy that it standeth not at first More hard to credit than it after is; And naught soe'er that's great to such degree, Nor wonderful so far, but all mankind Little by little abandon their surprise. Look upward yonder at the bright clear sky And what it holds—the stars that wander o'er, The moon, the radiance of the splendour-sun: Yet all, if now they first for mortals were, If unforeseen now first asudden shown, What might there be more wonderful to tell, What that the nations would before have dared Less to believe might be?—I fancy, naught— So strange had been the marvel of that sight. The which o'erwearied to behold, to-day None deigns look upward to those lucent realms. Then, spew not reason from thy mind away, Beside thyself because the matter's new, But rather with keen judgment nicely weigh; And if to thee it then appeareth true, Render thy hands, or, if 'tis false at last, Gird thee to combat. For my mind-of-man Now seeks the nature of the vast Beyond There on the other side, that boundless sum Which lies without the ramparts of the world, Toward which the spirit longs to peer afar, Toward which indeed the swift elan of thought Flies unencumbered forth. Firstly, we find, Off to all regions round, on either side, Above, beneath, throughout the universe End is there none—as I have taught, as too The very thing of itself declares aloud, And as from nature of the unbottomed deep Shines clearly forth. Nor can we once suppose In any way 'tis likely, (seeing that space To all sides stretches infinite and free, And seeds, innumerable in number, in sum Bottomless, there in many a manner fly, Bestirred in everlasting motion there), That only this one earth and sky of ours Hath been create and that those bodies of stuff, So many, perform no work outside the same; Seeing, moreover, this world too hath been By nature fashioned, even as seeds of things By innate motion chanced to clash and cling— After they'd been in many a manner driven Together at random, without design, in vain— And as at last those seeds together dwelt, Which, when together of a sudden thrown, Should alway furnish the commencements fit Of mighty things—the earth, the sea, the sky, And race of living creatures. Thus, I say, Again, again, 'tmust be confessed there are Such congregations of matter otherwhere, Like this our world which vasty ether holds In huge embrace. Besides, when matter abundant Is ready there, when space on hand, nor object Nor any cause retards, no marvel 'tis That things are carried on and made complete, Perforce. And now, if store of seeds there is So great that not whole life-times of the living Can count the tale... And if their force and nature abide the same, Able to throw the seeds of things together Into their places, even as here are thrown The seeds together in this world of ours, 'Tmust be confessed in other realms there are Still other worlds, still other breeds of men, And other generations of the wild. Hence too it happens in the sum there is No one thing single of its kind in birth, And single and sole in growth, but rather it is One member of some generated race, Among full many others of like kind. First, cast thy mind abroad upon the living: Thou'lt find the race of mountain-ranging wild Even thus to be, and thus the scions of men To be begot, and lastly the mute flocks Of scaled fish, and winged frames of birds. Wherefore confess we must on grounds the same That earth, sun, moon, and ocean, and all else, Exist not sole and single—rather in number Exceeding number. Since that deeply set Old boundary stone of life remains for them No less, and theirs a body of mortal birth No less, than every kind which here on earth Is so abundant in its members found. Which well perceived if thou hold in mind, Then Nature, delivered from every haughty lord, And forthwith free, is seen to do all things Herself and through herself of own accord, Rid of all gods. For—by their holy hearts Which pass in long tranquillity of peace Untroubled ages and a serene life!— Who hath the power (I ask), who hath the power To rule the sum of the immeasurable, To hold with steady hand the giant reins Of the unfathomed deep? Who hath the power At once to roll a multitude of skies, At once to heat with fires ethereal all The fruitful lands of multitudes of worlds, To be at all times in all places near, To stablish darkness by his clouds, to shake The serene spaces of the sky with sound, And hurl his lightnings,—ha, and whelm how oft In ruins his own temples, and to rave, Retiring to the wildernesses, there At practice with that thunderbolt of his, Which yet how often shoots the guilty by, And slays the honourable blameless ones! Ere since the birth-time of the world, ere since The risen first-born day of sea, earth, sun, Have many germs been added from outside, Have many seeds been added round about, Which the great All, the while it flung them on, Brought hither, that from them the sea and lands Could grow more big, and that the house of heaven Might get more room and raise its lofty roofs Far over earth, and air arise around. For bodies all, from out all regions, are Divided by blows, each to its proper thing, And all retire to their own proper kinds: The moist to moist retires; earth gets increase From earthy body; and fires, as on a forge, Beat out new fire; and ether forges ether; Till nature, author and ender of the world, Hath led all things to extreme bound of growth: As haps when that which hath been poured inside The vital veins of life is now no more Than that which ebbs within them and runs off. This is the point where life for each thing ends; This is the point where nature with her powers Curbs all increase. For whatsoe'er thou seest Grow big with glad increase, and step by step Climb upward to ripe age, these to themselves Take in more bodies than they send from selves, Whilst still the food is easily infused Through all the veins, and whilst the things are not So far expanded that they cast away Such numerous atoms as to cause a waste Greater than nutriment whereby they wax. For 'tmust be granted, truly, that from things Many a body ebbeth and runs off; But yet still more must come, until the things Have touched development's top pinnacle; Then old age breaks their powers and ripe strength And falls away into a worser part. For ever the ampler and more wide a thing, As soon as ever its augmentation ends, It scatters abroad forthwith to all sides round More bodies, sending them from out itself. Nor easily now is food disseminate Through all its veins; nor is that food enough To equal with a new supply on hand Those plenteous exhalations it gives off. Thus, fairly, all things perish, when with ebbing They're made less dense and when from blows without They are laid low; since food at last will fail Extremest eld, and bodies from outside Cease not with thumping to undo a thing And overmaster by infesting blows. Thus, too, the ramparts of the mighty world On all sides round shall taken be by storm, And tumble to wrack and shivered fragments down. For food it is must keep things whole, renewing; 'Tis food must prop and give support to all,— But to no purpose, since nor veins suffice To hold enough, nor nature ministers As much as needful. And even now 'tis thus: Its age is broken and the earth, outworn With many parturitions, scarce creates The little lives—she who created erst All generations and gave forth at birth Enormous bodies of wild beasts of old. For never, I fancy, did a golden cord From off the firmament above let down The mortal generations to the fields; Nor sea, nor breakers pounding on the rocks Created them; but earth it was who bore— The same to-day who feeds them from herself. Besides, herself of own accord, she first The shining grains and vineyards of all joy Created for mortality; herself Gave the sweet fruitage and the pastures glad, Which now to-day yet scarcely wax in size, Even when aided by our toiling arms. We break the ox, and wear away the strength Of sturdy farm-hands; iron tools to-day Barely avail for tilling of the fields, So niggardly they grudge our harvestings, So much increase our labour. Now to-day The aged ploughman, shaking of his head, Sighs o'er and o'er that labours of his hands Have fallen out in vain, and, as he thinks How present times are not as times of old, Often he praises the fortunes of his sire, And crackles, prating, how the ancient race, Fulfilled with piety, supported life With simple comfort in a narrow plot, Since, man for man, the measure of each field Was smaller far i' the old days. And, again, The gloomy planter of the withered vine Rails at the season's change and wearies heaven, Nor grasps that all of things by sure degrees Are wasting away and going to the tomb, Outworn by venerable length of life.