Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Poem.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Four Elements [Fire, Earth, Air and Water]
by [?]


The Fire, Air, Earth and Water did contest
Which was the strongest, noblest and the best,
Who was of greatest use and might’est force;
In placide Terms they thought now to discourse,
That in due order each her turn should speak;
But enmity this amity did break
All would be chief, and all scorn’d to be under
Whence issued winds & rains, lightning & thunder.
The quaking earth did groan, the Sky looked black,
The Fire, the forced Air, in sunder crack;
The sea did threat the heav’ns, the heavn’s the earth,
All looked like a Chaos or new birth;
Fire broyled Earth, & scorched Earth it choaked
Both by their darings, water so provoked
That roaring in it came, and with its source
Soon made the Combatants abate their force;
The rumbling, hissing, puffing was so great
The worlds confusion, it did seem to threat
Till gentle Air, Contention so abated
That betwixt hot and cold, she arbitrated
The others difference, being less did cease
All storms now laid, and they in perfect peace
That Fire should first begin, the rest consent,
The noblest and most active Element.

FIRE

What is my worth (both ye) and all men know,
In little time I can but little show,
But what I am, let learned Grecians say
What I can do well skil’d Mechanicks may;
The benefit all living by me finde,
All sorts of Artists, here declare your mind,
What tool was ever fram’d, but by my might?
Ye Martilisk, what weapons for your fight
To try your valor by, but it must feel
My force? Your Sword, & Gun, your Lance of steel
Your Cannon’s bootless and your powder too
Without mine aid, (alas) what can they do;
The adverse walls not shak’d, the Mines not blown
And in despight the City keeps her own;
But I with one Granado or Petard
Set ope those gates, that ‘fore so strong were bar’d
Ye Husband-men, your Coulters made by me
Your Hooes your Mattocks, & what ere you see
Subdue the Earth, and fit it for your Grain
That so it might in time requite your pain;
Though strong-limb’d Vulcan forg’d it by his skill
I made it flexible unto his will;
Ye Cooks, your Kitchen implements I frame
Your Spits, Pots, Jacks, what else I need not name
Your dayly food I wholsome make, I warm
Your shrinking Limbs, which winter’s cold doth harm
Ye Paracelsians too in vain’s your skill
In Chymistry, unless I help you Still.

And you Philosophers, if e’re you made
A transmutation it was through mine aid,
Ye silver Smiths, your Ure I do refine
What mingled lay with Earth I cause to shine,
But let me leave these things, my fame aspires
To match on high with the Celestial fires;
The Sun an Orb of fire was held of old,
Our Sages new another tale have told;
But be he what they will, yet his aspect
A burning fiery heat we find reflect
And of the self same nature is with mine
Cold sister Earth, no witness needs but thine;
How doth his warmth, refresh thy frozen back
And trim thee brave, in green, after thy black.
Both man and beast rejoyce at his approach,
And birds do sing, to see his glittering Coach
And though nought, but Salamanders live in fire
And fly Pyrausta call’d, all else expire,
Yet men and beasts Astronomers will tell
Fixed in heavenly Constellations dwell,
My Planets of both Sexes whose degree
Poor Heathen judg’d worthy a Diety;
There’s Orion arm’d attended by his dog;
The Theban stout Alcides with his Club;
The valiant Persens, who Medusa slew,
The horse that kil’d Beleuphon, then flew.
My Crab, my Scorpion, fishes you may see
The Maid with ballance, twain with horses three,
The Ram, the Bull, the Lion, and the Beagle,
The Bear, the Goat, the Raven, and the Eagle,
The Crown, the Whale, the Archer, Bernice Hare
The Hidra, Dolphin, Boys that water bear,
Nay more, then these, Rivers ‘mongst stars are found
Eridanus, where Phaeton was drown’d.
Their magnitude, and height, should I recount
My Story to a volume would amount;
Out of a multitude these few I touch,
Your wisdome out of little gather much.