• Lucretius
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  • There is no end,
  • No limit to the cosmos, above, below,
  • Around, about, stretching on every side.
  • This I have proven, but the fact itself
  • Cries loud in proclamation, nature’s deep
  • Is luminous with proof. The universe
  • Is infinitely wide; its vastness holds
  • Innumerable seeds, beyond all count,
  • Beyond all possibility of number,
  • Flying along their everlasting ways.
  • So it must be unthinkable that our sky
  • And our round world are precious and unique
  • While all those other motes of matter flit
  • In idleness, achieve, accomplish nothing,
  • Especially since this world of ours was made
  • By natural process, as the atoms came
  • Together, willy-nilly, quite by chance,
  • Quite casually and quite intentionless
  • Knocking against each other, massed, or spaced
  • So as to colander others through, and cause
  • Such combinations and conglomerates
  • As form the origin of mighty things,
  • Earth, sea and sky, and animals and men.
  • Face up to this, acknowledge it. I tell you
  • Over and over — out beyond our world
  • There are, elsewhere, other assemblages
  • Of matter, making other worlds. Oh, ours
  • Is not the only one in air’s embrace.

This is a brief passage from Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura, often translated as The Way of Things. This version was translated by the brilliant American poet and translator Rolfe Humphries (1894–1969). Titus Lucretius Carus (99–55 BC) was a Roman philosopher and poet who felt that man’s unhappiness largely results from fear of the gods and our unknown fate in the afterlife. He was greatly influenced by Democritus’s theory of atoms and was an exponent of the Epicurean worldview that man seeks happiness above all else. De Rerum Natura suggests that religion is at the root of human anguish and, in this provocative passage, that the universe is boundless and unending and that the planet Earth and our own species are not by any means unique, for there are certainly many other planetary worlds. De Rerum Natura is a poem of enormous scope and intellectual depth. Almost nothing is known of Lucretius’s life.

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Founder March 22, 2013 @ 6:01 p.m.

Amazing poem since he lived from 99 to 55 BC, luckily translated for us by someone that lived from 1894 to 1969. Modern access to all forms of media including Poetry is such a gift to mankind.


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