Here you will find the Long Poem Book II - Part 04 - Absence Of Secondary Qualities of poet Lucretius

Book II - Part 04 - Absence Of Secondary Qualities

Now come, this wisdom by my sweet toil sought 
Look thou perceive, lest haply thou shouldst guess 
That the white objects shining to thine eyes 
Are gendered of white atoms, or the black 
Of a black seed; or yet believe that aught 
That's steeped in any hue should take its dye 
From bits of matter tinct with hue the same. 
For matter's bodies own no hue the least- 
Or like to objects or, again, unlike. 
But, if percase it seem to thee that mind 
Itself can dart no influence of its own 
Into these bodies, wide thou wand'rest off. 
For since the blind-born, who have ne'er surveyed 
The light of sun, yet recognise by touch 
Things that from birth had ne'er a hue for them, 
'Tis thine to know that bodies can be brought 
No less unto the ken of our minds too, 
Though yet those bodies with no dye be smeared. 
Again, ourselves whatever in the dark 
We touch, the same we do not find to be 
Tinctured with any colour. 
Now that here 
I win the argument, I next will teach 

Now, every colour changes, none except, 
And every... 
Which the primordials ought nowise to do. 
Since an immutable somewhat must remain, 
Lest all things utterly be brought to naught. 
For change of anything from out its bounds 
Means instant death of that which was before. 
Wherefore be mindful not to stain with colour 
The seeds of things, lest things return for thee 
All utterly to naught. 
But now, if seeds 
Receive no property of colour, and yet 
Be still endowed with variable forms 
From which all kinds of colours they beget 
And vary (by reason that ever it matters much 
With, what seeds, and in what positions joined, 
And what the motions that they give and get), 
Forthwith most easily thou mayst devise 
Why what was black of hue an hour ago 
Can of a sudden like the marble gleam,- 
As ocean, when the high winds have upheaved 
Its level plains, is changed to hoary waves 
Of marble whiteness: for, thou mayst declare, 
That, when the thing we often see as black 
Is in its matter then commixed anew, 
Some atoms rearranged, and some withdrawn, 
And added some, 'tis seen forthwith to turn 
Glowing and white. But if of azure seeds 
Consist the level waters of the deep, 
They could in nowise whiten: for however 
Thou shakest azure seeds, the same can never 
Pass into marble hue. But, if the seeds- 
Which thus produce the ocean's one pure sheen- 
Be now with one hue, now another dyed, 
As oft from alien forms and divers shapes 
A cube's produced all uniform in shape, 
'Twould be but natural, even as in the cube 
We see the forms to be dissimilar, 
That thus we'd see in brightness of the deep 
(Or in whatever one pure sheen thou wilt) 
Colours diverse and all dissimilar. 
Besides, the unlike shapes don't thwart the least 
The whole in being externally a cube; 
But differing hues of things do block and keep 
The whole from being of one resultant hue. 
Then, too, the reason which entices us 
At times to attribute colours to the seeds 
Falls quite to pieces, since white things are not 
Create from white things, nor are black from black, 
But evermore they are create from things 
Of divers colours. Verily, the white 
Will rise more readily, is sooner born 
Out of no colour, than of black or aught 
Which stands in hostile opposition thus. 

Besides, since colours cannot be, sans light, 
And the primordials come not forth to light, 
'Tis thine to know they are not clothed with colour- 
Truly, what kind of colour could there be 
In the viewless dark? Nay, in the light itself 
A colour changes, gleaming variedly, 
When smote by vertical or slanting ray. 
Thus in the sunlight shows the down of doves 
That circles, garlanding, the nape and throat: 
Now it is ruddy with a bright gold-bronze, 
Now, by a strange sensation it becomes 
Green-emerald blended with the coral-red. 
The peacock's tail, filled with the copious light, 
Changes its colours likewise, when it turns. 
Wherefore, since by some blow of light begot, 
Without such blow these colours can't become. 

And since the pupil of the eye receives 
Within itself one kind of blow, when said 
To feel a white hue, then another kind, 
When feeling a black or any other hue, 
And since it matters nothing with what hue 
The things thou touchest be perchance endowed, 
But rather with what sort of shape equipped, 
'Tis thine to know the atoms need not colour, 
But render forth sensations, as of touch, 
That vary with their varied forms. 
Since special shapes have not a special colour, 
And all formations of the primal germs 
Can be of any sheen thou wilt, why, then, 
Are not those objects which are of them made 
Suffused, each kind with colours of every kind? 
For then 't