Book I - Part 04 - Nothing Exists Per Se Except Atoms And The Void
- by Lucretius23
But, now again to weave the tale begun, All nature, then, as self-sustained, consists Of twain of things: of bodies and of void In which they're set, and where they're moved around. For common instinct of our race declares That body of itself exists: unless This primal faith, deep-founded, fail us not, Naught will there be whereunto to appeal On things occult when seeking aught to prove By reasonings of mind. Again, without That place and room, which we do call the inane, Nowhere could bodies then be set, nor go Hither or thither at all- as shown before. Besides, there's naught of which thou canst declare It lives disjoined from body, shut from void- A kind of third in nature. For whatever Exists must be a somewhat; and the same, If tangible, however fight and slight, Will yet increase the count of body's sum, With its own augmentation big or small; But, if intangible and powerless ever To keep a thing from passing through itself On any side, 'twill be naught else but that Which we do call the empty, the inane. Again, whate'er exists, as of itself, Must either act or suffer action on it. Or else be that wherein things move and be: Naught, saving body, acts, is acted on; Naught but the inane can furnish room. And thus, Beside the inane and bodies, is no third Nature amid the number of all things- Remainder none to fall at any time Under our senses, nor be seized and seen By any man through reasonings of mind. Name o'er creation with what names thou wilt, Thou'lt find but properties of those first twain, Or see but accidents those twain produce.
A property is that which not at all Can be disjoined and severed from a thing Without a fatal dissolution: such, Weight to the rocks, heat to the fire, and flow To the wide waters, touch to corporal things, Intangibility to the viewless void. But state of slavery, pauperhood, and wealth, Freedom, and war, and concord, and all else Which come and go whilst Nature stands the same, We're wont, and rightly, to call accidents. Even time exists not of itself; but sense Reads out of things what happened long ago, What presses now, and what shall follow after: No man, we must admit, feels time itself, Disjoined from motion and repose of things. Thus, when they say there "is" the ravishment Of Princess Helen, "is" the siege and sack Of Trojan Town, look out, they force us not To admit these acts existent by themselves, Merely because those races of mankind (Of whom these acts were accidents) long since Irrevocable age has borne away: For all past actions may be said to be But accidents, in one way, of mankind,- In other, of some region of the world. Add, too, had been no matter, and no room Wherein all things go on, the fire of love Upblown by that fair form, the glowing coal Under the Phrygian Alexander's breast, Had ne'er enkindled that renowned strife Of savage war, nor had the wooden horse Involved in flames old Pergama, by a birth At midnight of a brood of the Hellenes. And thus thou canst remark that every act At bottom exists not of itself, nor is As body is, nor has like name with void; But rather of sort more fitly to be called An accident of body, and of place Wherein all things go on.
Book II - Part 01 - Proem
- by Lucretius23
'Tis sweet, when, down the mighty main, the winds Roll up its waste of waters, from the land To watch another's labouring anguish far, Not that we joyously delight that man Should thus be smitten, but because 'tis sweet To mark what evils we ourselves be spared; 'Tis sweet, again, to view the mighty strife Of armies embattled yonder o'er the plains, Ourselves no sharers in the peril; but naught There is more goodly than to hold the high Serene plateaus, well fortressed by the wise, Whence thou may'st look below on other men And see them ev'rywhere wand'ring, all dispersed In their lone seeking for the road of life; Rivals in genius, or emulous in rank, Pressing through days and nights with hugest toil For summits of power and mastery of the world. O wretched minds of men! O blinded hearts! In how great perils, in what darks of life Are spent the human years, however brief!- O not to see that Nature for herself Barks after nothing, save that pain keep off, Disjoined from the body, and that mind enjoy Delightsome feeling, far from care and fear! Therefore we see that our corporeal life Needs little, altogether, and only such As takes the pain away, and can besides Strew underneath some number of delights. More grateful 'tis at times (for Nature craves No artifice nor luxury), if forsooth There be no golden images of boys Along the halls, with right hands holding out The lamps ablaze, the lights for evening feasts, And if the house doth glitter not with gold Nor gleam with silver, and to the lyre resound No fretted and gilded ceilings overhead, Yet still to lounge with friends in the soft grass Beside a river of water, underneath A big tree's boughs, and merrily to refresh Our frames, with no vast outlay- most of all If the weather is laughing and the times of the year Besprinkle the green of the grass around with flowers. Nor yet the quicker will hot fevers go, If on a pictured tapestry thou toss, Or purple robe, than if 'tis thine to lie Upon the poor man's bedding. Wherefore, since Treasure, nor rank, nor glory of a reign Avail us naught for this our body, thus Reckon them likewise nothing for the mind: Save then perchance, when thou beholdest forth Thy legions swarming round the Field of Mars, Rousing a mimic warfare- either side Strengthened with large auxiliaries and horse, Alike equipped with arms, alike inspired; Or save when also thou beholdest forth Thy fleets to swarm, deploying down the sea: For then, by such bright circumstance abashed, Religion pales and flees thy mind; O then The fears of death leave heart so free of care. But if we note how all this pomp at last Is but a drollery and a mocking sport, And of a truth man's dread, with cares at heels, Dreads not these sounds of arms, these savage swords But among kings and lords of all the world Mingles undaunted, nor is overawed By gleam of gold nor by the splendour bright Of purple robe, canst thou then doubt that this Is aught, but power of thinking?- when, besides The whole of life but labours in the dark. For just as children tremble and fear all In the viewless dark, so even we at times Dread in the light so many things that be No whit more fearsome than what children feign, Shuddering, will be upon them in the dark. This terror then, this darkness of the mind, Not sunrise with its flaring spokes of light, Nor glittering arrows of morning can disperse, But only Nature's aspect and her law.
Poems by Lucretius, Lucretius's poems collection. Lucretius is a classical and famous poet (99 BC - 55 BC). Share all poems of Lucretius.