Littell's Living Age/Volume 144/Issue 1861/Justinian

Originally published in Contemporary Review.

      “The world is weary of idolatries:
Pan and Apollo and great Zeus are dead,
And Jesus Christ hangs cold upon the cross.
Nay more, the light of science newly born
Hath slain the night of the divine idea,
So that, for calm assurance of our souls,
We mathematically demonstrate
Infinite God as infinitely false
To infinite impossibility.
Henceforth a grievous shadow quits the earth,
While man, the fruitage and the flower of things,
Walks fetterless and free.” Thus much and more,
With many hints of cell and protoplasm,
And of the dusk beginnings of the brain,
The mild professor said.

                              Professor Day,
A little gentleman with soft gray eyes,
Whose spectacles had faced the very Sphinx
And read the cosmic riddle wrought therein,
He, having lived to thirty years of age,
Had hate for nought but ambiguity;
Knew all that science and the schools could teach,
Lived for truth only, and, had these been days
Of any necessary martyrdom,
Would cheerfully have given his life for truth.
Meantime, he served her cause. How wrathfully
He rose his height, while angry pulpits wail'd,
And from the platforms of the great reviews
Demolish'd the theistic fallacy,
Pluck'd the bright mantle from the verbal form
And show'd the syllogistic skeleton!
Dear gentle heart, he who could be so fierce
In hating what he did not deem to be,
Was full of love for all the things that are;
Wherefore God loved him for his unbelief
And sent a ministering angel down. . . .

      He often thought, “If I should have a child,
If ever life should issue out of mine,
I shall uprear it on the gracious food
Of knowledge only. Superstition haunts
Our very cradles: in our nurses' hands
Dangle the fetish and the crucifix
That darken us forever till we die.
No child of mine, if I should have a child,
Shall know the legend of the lie divine,
Or lisp the words of folly that profane
The wish of wisdom. Prayer is cowardice:
No child of mine shall pray. Worship is fear:
My child shall never know the name of fear.
But when its eyes are ready to behold,
Its ears to hear, my child shall wander forth,
Fearlessly leaning on its father's strength,
Serene in innocence and mastery.”

      And so he wedded, hoping for a child,
A tender toy to cut his creed upon,
And wedded wisely: a virgin not too young,
And not too good, and not too beautiful,
But gently reared, and of a learned race
Who held that over-learning suits but ill
The creed and need of women. To his side
She came not trembling, trusting in his strength,
And wise enough to dimly comprehend
Her gentle lords superiority.
Two years they grew together, as two trees
Blending their branches; then a child was born,
Which, flickering like a taper thro' the night,
Went out ere dawn; but when the mother wept,
And reach'd her thin hands down the darkness, whither
The little life had fallen like a spark,
The pale Professor (though his eyes were dim)
Sat by the bedside presently, and proved —
As gently as a poor man praying to God —
That what had never known potential life,
In all its qualities and faculties,
Had never absolutely lived at all.
Nay, 'twere as wise, perchance, he thought, to mourn
Some faint albuminous product of the deep,
As weep for something which had ne'er achieved
The motions and the mysteries of mind,
Which things are life itself. The mother moaned:
And creeping thence to his laboratory,
The wise man wiped away a foolish dew
That shamed the gloss of his philosophy.

      But comfort came a little later on;
Another crying life arose and bloom'd,
And faded not upon the mother's breast,
But drew its milk with feeble lips, and breathed,
It was a boy, and when they brought him down,
And placed him in the pale professors arms,
He laugh'd and reached his little rosy hands
To greet his father; and the wise man said,
Holding the babe and blushing awkwardly,
“How naturally mammals love their young!
Thus, even thus, the archetypal ape
Dandled its rough first-born! Whereat the nurse
Exclaim'd, — not comprehending, pious soul, —
“Thank God for sending you so fine a boy!”
And when the wise man thro' his spectacles
Look'd lightnings of philosophy and scorn,
She took the babe and murmur'd, kissing it,
“Now God Almighty grant the pretty dear
A long and merry life!”
                              The wise mans cheek
Grew pallid, for already, ere he knew,
It seem'd that Superstition's skinny hand
Was clutching at his pearl of innocence.
He fled into his study, and therein
Added a fragment to a fierce review
Upholding Haeckel, proving Tyndall tame,
And rating Virchow and Agnosticism.
And having thus refreshed his learned soul,
He sat by the bedside of his pale wife,
Holding her hand in silence for an hour,
Feeling a nameless fear upon his heart,
Blent with a sense of blessing one less wise
Might have mistaken for a sense of prayer.

      Thenceforward, with a curious scrutiny,
Such as he brought to bear on things minute
Dredged from the fishpond or the rivers bed,
He watch'd the tiny life expand and grow,
Stretching sensorial tendrils softly forth,
Sucking its mothers milk with rosy lips,
As tiny creatures of albumen suck
Their nurture from the tidal ooze and foam.
Then with a span he measured the small head,
And watch'd the soft pink circle, where the skin
Closed on the milk-white matter of the brain,
Hardening slowly into skull and bone;
And all the while the little azure orbs
Look'd upward meaningless as flowers or stars
Full of a faint flame issuing from within.
Then thought he, “It is well; a goodly child;
A brain of weight above the average,
And phrenologically excellent!
And yet how helpless in their dim beginnings
The higher mammals seem, this babe of mine
Nor less nor more; a feeble crying thing,
Feeling with blind progressions like a plant
To the full sunshine of potential life.
Prick the grey cells, it dies, and has not lived;
Deny it nurture, as of sun and rain,
And even as a leaf it withers up,
Without a sign that it hath ever been.
Yea, what we bring it, it absorbs, and turns
To highest use and issue; as we train
Its tendrils, so it grows and if denied
Such nurture as the nobler species need,
Would surely, slowly, dwindle back to beast,
As is the wont of many human types
Stunted and starven in their infancy.
But this one, bone of mine and flesh of mine,
This will I watch with ministering care,
Till it rewards my patience and becomes
Perfect in knowledge and in mastery,
The living apex and the crown of things.”

      A little later, when the mother rose,
And with the consecration of her pain
Clothed softly still, sat pallid by the fire,
She, after resting silent for a time
And casting many a hesitating glance,
Said softly, “Dear, have you reflected yet
How we shall christen him?” Stung by the word,
The wise man murmur'd, Christen? — christen him?”
Then, flush'd with wrath, “The very word is rank
With superstition and idolatry:
Do not repeat it, as you love the child.”
Whereat the mother, timorously firm,
Said, smiling, “But the child must have a name!
What shall we call him?” Puzzled for the time,
The wise man pursed his lips and shook his head,
And scrutinized the little rosy face,
As if for inspiration and for help.
Then one by one they named the names of men,
From Adam down to Peter, Paul, and John,
And scorning these as over-scriptural,
They counted o'er the legion heathen names
But found them fraught with superstition too.
“Our infant,” the professor moralized,
“Heathen no more than Christian, shall receive
No gift from heathendom or Christendom,
Not even that slightest of all shades, a name.
Could I invent? — but no, invented names
Ever sound barbarous — I will rack my books,
And find one fitting; there is time to spare;
Take thought, and wait!” So many a quiet night
They talk'd it o'er, and after hovering long
O'er Thales (Evolution's Morning Star,”
The wise man styled him, while the mother's ear
Was shock'd at the mere sound of Thales Day),
Rejecting Bruno and Galileo,
They found the thing they sought upon their shelves,
And pausing at the famous “Institutes,”
They chose the learned name — Justinian.

      Not at the font with painted windows round,
Not through the office of a priest in lawn
Sprinkling with white hands the baptismal dew,
The infant took his name; but quietly
One Sunday morn, in the laboratory,
With casts and fœtal forms around about,
The wise man, kissing him upon the brow,
Named him Justinian; and the mothers voice
Echo'd “Justinian;” and the naming him
Would have been wholly joyful and complete,
But for a jangling sound of bells that rang
Suddenly from the churches round about,
Calling the folk of Christendom to prayer!
Pass o'er the seasons when with baby lips
The infant drew its nurture from the breast,
And when with tottering steps he first began
To walk erect upon the ground, and shape
The first faint sounds, to mimic human speech.
Behold him, then, at five years old, a child
Large-eyed, large-brow'd, and somewhat pale, of cheek,
Clutching a thin forefinger as he ran
And prattled at the pale professor's side.
Companions now they grew from day to day,
For while within his study 'mong his books
The wise man sat, the infant at his feet
Sat looking up; or, on the table perch'd,
Blinkd like a pretty gnome; and every morn
When for a hurried constitutional
The father trotted over Hampstead Heath,
The little one would toddle by his side,
Happy and garrulous, and looking up
With question after question. — Thus the child
Heard, at an age when other children feed
On nursery rhymes and tales of fairyland,
The wondrous song of science; how at first
The nebulæ cohered, how this round orb
Rose out of chaos, how it lay in space
Eyeless and dark until the sun's red hand
Touch'd it upon the heart, and made it live,
And how the first faint protoplasmic forms,
Amœbæ, infusoria, stirred and moved
In troubled depths of some primeval ooze.
All this, and more, translated tenderly
Into soft words of just one syllable,
Justinian heard, not understanding yet,
But turning all the solemn cosmic fact
To pretty fancy such as children love.
What solemn truth, what sad solemnity,
May not an infant turn to poesy?
Instead of Gorgon and Chimæra dire,
His fancy saw the monstrous mastodon;
Instead of fairies of the moonlight wood,
Strange shapes that lurk in strata or disport
In some green waterdrop; instead of myths,
He read the faery story of the world.

      From childhood upward, till the end, he knew
No teacher save his father, and, indeed,
Since never teacher could be tenderer,
He did not miss the lore of love itself.
As patient as a woman, firm yet fond,
Hoarding his very heart up in the boy,
The father tended, taught him, watch'd him grow.
At eight years old Justinian lisped in Greek,
And readily construed Lucretius;
Had read the great stone book whereon is writ
The riddle of the world from age to age;
Knew the fair marvels of the Zodiac,
The stars and their processions; had by heart
The elemental truths of chemistry. . . .
And zealously, within a mental maze,
As dense as that which covered Rosamond,
His teacher guarded him against the creeds.
For gospel, he had knowledge, and for God,
His gentle human father; and indeed
No child that lisps a heavenly Father's name
Could lisp it with a fonder, fairer faith
Than fill'd him when he named his earthly one.

      Now when the boy was scarcely ten years old,
Wise far beyond the wisdom of his years,
The mother, wasting of a long disease,
Died, leaving a great void within his heart
Only the father's larger love could fill.
The wise man sorrow'd little, having view'd
His helpmate with a calm superior care,
Approving her, but hoarded in his boy;
And thenceforth, sire and son were all in all
To one another. Oft the pair were seen
Seated in scientific lecture-halls,
The wise man blinking thro' his spectacles,
The boy, his little image, by his side,
Like small by greater owl; and evermore
When, hastening home, they pass'd some shadowy shrine
The father drew his treasure closer to him,
Lest some dark phantom from within the porch
Should mar the crystal mirror of his soul.

      The seasons sped; at sixteen years of age
Justinian was famous in the haunts
Where wise men gather, and in deep debate
Could hold his own among gray honor'd heads
And pass with pedants for a prodigy.
At seventeen, he wrote that bold review,
Attributed for several weeks to Mill,
Denuding Buckle and his theory
Of history's four stages. How men smiled,
When some one blabb'd and the strange truth was told,
To find the grown man's pompous periods
Dissected into folly by a boy!

      Now for the first time on the father's heart
There fell the shadow of a nameless fear
Lest all this building of a noble mind
Should fail and perilously come to nought.
For lo! despite the glow of happy pride,
Justinians cheek was pale, his gentle eyes
Deep sunken, and he stoop'd beneath the weight
Of too much wisdom; oftentimes his face,
Tho' firm in faith and beautiful resolve,
Seem'd set in silent sorrow. At last, one night,
After a crowded meeting of the learned,
A great physician and his father's friend
Took him apart and whispered in his ear, —
“Take care, my dear professor, of your boy! —
I do not like that cough — he works too hard —
His life is very precious to us all —
Be sure to watch him well.”
                              From that day forth
The father's heart was burthen'd with a dread
He never phrased to any human ear.
Hungrily, with sick hunger of the soul,
He watched his treasure, sleepless ev'n by night,
Like some wan miser who forever hears
The robbers foot upon the creaking stair
Coming to take his gold. He watch'd and watch'd,
Hiding his terror with a cheerless smile,
Each light or shade that softly chased itself
On the sweet boyish face. Was it a dream? —
Or did Death pass, and with a finger-point
Leave one deep crimson spot on either cheek
As signal of decay? No, no, not Death!
Not Death, but Life, now made the blue eyes gleam
So marvellously bright; the small hands grow
Thin and blue vein'd, with pink blood glimmering thro'
Like light thro' alabaster; the brave brow
So marble-cold and clear! — Yet presently
He led him to the great physicians house
And asked for counsel. “Take him to the sea,”
Said the physician; keep away all books;
Let brain and body rest for three months space —
Then, when we know what sun and sea can do
To make him rosy, come to me again.”

      They went together to the sea, and there,
Fann'd by the potent breath, the young mans cheek
Grew brighter, and the father's heart took cheer.
But one day, as they sat upon the beach,
Watching the great smooth billows break themselves
With solemn lapse upon the shell and sand,
Justinian said, not loudly, in a voice
As if communing softly with himself,
“Father, if I should die!
                              The very word
Seem'd sad and terrible and fraught with fear.
And starting at the sound, the wise man cried,
“Die? and so young! — that is a foolish thought!
You cannot, will not, die!”
                              But with his eyes
Fix'd on the ever-breaking line of foam,
Justinian answer'd, Soon or late, death comes —
A little earlier, or a little later,
What matter? In the end we falter back
Into the nothingness from which we rose.
Well have you taught me, father, that our
life Is but the climbing and the falling wave.
I do not fear to die. No foolish tale
Of priest or pope affrights me; I have read
The secret of the world, and know indeed
That death is silence and an end of all.”

“But you will live!”
                              “For what? To read again
A tale thrice told; to hear a few more years
The same cold answer to my questionings;
To be a little wiser possibly,
And being so, a little sadder? Nay!
I am weary of it all I — have lived my life!”

      “Lived? cried the wise man holding the thin hand,
Lived? you, a stripling still, not yet a man —
You know not what you say. When you are well
(And 'twill be soon) you'll laugh at these sad moods
And gather up your force to face anew
For many a merry year the shocks of time.
Have comfort! — I am sixty years of age,
And am not weary yet!”

                              The young man smiled,
And press'd the gentle hand that held his own.
“Dear father, since we do not measure time
Merely by seasons past, 'tis I am old,
And you that are the boy! How cheerfully
You con the lesson you have learned by heart
So many a busy year. Why were we born?
To come into the sunlight and demand
Whence come we, whither go we, then to pass
Back into silence and to nothingness.
You say that life is long—alas! that life
Which ends at all, is far too brief for me.
Sixty years hence, if I could live till then,
I should be no less bitter to depart,
To pass into a silence and a sleep,
Than this day, or to-morrow. Dearest father,
My faith is firm as yours. I know full well
There is no God or gods, as mad folk dream,
Beyond these echoes: that with man’s last breath
All individual being ends for ever,
And with the chemic crystals of the brain
Dries up that gas the preachers christen soul.
Were I to live an hundred years and ten,
To realise old wives’ and prophets’ tales
Of man’s longevity, what could I learn
Not taught already? I could hear no more
Than I have heard; than you have taught me, father,
Almost with my first breath.”

                              Then, in a voice
Broken and thick with tears, the wise man cried,
“I have taught you over-much! — My son, my son,
Forgive me for my love and over-zeal!
I have been too cruel, placing on your strength,
Too slight to bear it, such a weight of work
As pales the cheek and rusts the wholesome blood.
But you shall rest! throwing all books aside,
We two will seek the breezes on the sea
And on the mountains! Then you will be strong,
And casting off these sad distemper’d fears,
Become a man indeed!”

                              From that day forth
The silken thread of love, that ran unseen
Between the hearts of father and of son,
Tighten’d with many a pang of hope and dread.
Now for the first the father realized
Parting was possible, and with sick suspense
He watch’d the shadow and the sunbeam fight
For victory on the pallid patient face.
When winter came they flitted to the south,
And there, amid a land of pine and vine,
Under a sapphire sky, Justinian seem’d
To gather strength and walk about renewed.
Then ever in that fair land they heard the sound
Of soft church-bells, and ever in their walks
They came on rudely painted images
Of Jesus and Madonna, and beheld
At every step the shaven face of priests.
Among these signs of blind and ignorant faith
They walk’d like strangers in an alien clime,
Wondering and pitying, pitied in their turn
By all who saw them slowly pass along;
The tall boy leaning on the father’s arm,
The old man with a woman’s tender care
Uplooking in his face, with sleepless eyes
Watching his pearl of pearls.
                              At last they came
Unto a place most peaceful and most fair,
Upon the margin of a crystal lake
Set in the hollow of Italian hills.
There an eternal summer seem’d to dwell,
In an eternal calm. On every side
The purple mountains rose, with filmy lights
And slender scarfs of white and melting mist,
While down below were happy orange groves
And gleaming emerald slopes, and crimson crags
Upon whose sides hung chalets white as snow
Just peeping from deep fringe of flower and fern.
And all, the crag and chalet, grove and wood,
With snow-white gleams of silent cataracts
For ever frozen in the act to fall,
Were imaged, to the tiniest flower or leaf,
In the cerulean mirror of the lake, —
Save when across the stillness crystalline
A gondola with purple shade crawl’d slowly
And blurr’d the picture with its silvern trail.

Here then they rested, in a cottage set
Upon the green edge of a promontory,
Where, sitting side by side, with images
Reflected in the azure sleeping lake,
They often heard the boatman’s even-song
Come from the distance like a sound in sleep;
And often faintly from the crags o’erhead
Tinkled the chapel bell. But day by day
The young man felt the life-blood in his heart
Fail more and more, till oftentimes his life
Would seem as sad and faint and indistinct
As those soft sounds. Once, as they linger’d there,
A gentle Lutheran priest whose home was near
Came, hearing that the youth was sick to death,
And sought to give them comfort; but the sire,
With something of a learned anger left,
Tho’ gently, warn’d him from the sufferer’s side.
Then coming to his son, “How far these priests
Scent sorrow! — they would make the merry world
A charnel-house to do their office in!
I sent the preacher packing; he seemed vex’d
To hear that you were growing strong and well
And did not need his prayers;” and with a smile
Of sad entreaty, “Yes, you are growing strong!
And you will soon be well!”

                              Divinely blue
The heavens were bending o’er the young man’s head,
Blue lay the peaceful lake, and in its breast
Another heaven as divinely blue
Throbb’d through its own soft sunlight rapturously.
Propp’d in his chair Justinian gazed around.
“Father,” he said, “dear father, hold my hand —
In all the world there is no comfort left
Like feeling your kind touch. Now listen to me!
I know I shall not leave this place alive —
My time has almost come!” —
                    “No, no!”

                              “Dear father!
When the faint flame of life is flickering low,
They say that even mindless beasts and birds
Know that the end is near; and lo, I know it,
For all my sense grows dim. A little while,
And I shall be a part of that soft sleep
Upon the lake and on the purple hills
And in the quiet grave where no shape stirs.
But now it does not seem so hard to go,
Since all life seems a dream within a dream
And I myself the strangest dream of all.
To those fair elements whence first I came —
Water and earth and air — I shall return;
And see! how tranquil and how beautiful
They wait for me, the immortal ministers
Of man and all that shares mortality!”

      Then in a voice that seemed the very sound
Of his own rending heart, the father cried,
“My son! Justinian! child of mine old age!
Sole comfort of my dark and dreary days!
You cannot go! you cannot fade away!
No, no, you must not die! How shall I live
Bereft of you? Where shall my soul find rest,
When all I cherish, all the loving mind
That I have nurtured so, depart so soon?
No, I will hold you — I will clasp you to me —
Nothing shall part us, nay, not death itself;
For if you die, my only boy, my pride,
I will die too!” Then, as he clasped his son,
And looked into the thin and tearful eyes,
And felt the slight frame tremble through and through
As if with chill of some cold blighting breath,
He suddenly raised up his face to heaven
And unaware, with a great gush of tears,
Moaned “God! God! God!”

                              Startled at that strange cry,
Justinian murmur’d, “Father!” — and the two
Clung close to one another tremulously
In pain too quick for speech; but when the storm
Of sudden agony had passed away,
There came a pause — a long and tearful pause —
And each could feel the other’s beating heart
And the quick coming of the other’s breath.
Then presently their eyes met, and a light
Of some new wonder fill’d Justinian’s eyes,
While softly, quietly, he said, “My father!
Since I was but a babe upon the breast,
And ever upward through the happy years,
Your eyes have been the source of all my seeing,
Your mind the living font of all my thoughts.
Tell me, dear father — now, before we part —
And tell me firmly, with no thought of fear,
Is it forever? Have I read, indeed,
My lesson truly? Tell me, am I right?
For you have taught me truth is best of all —
Is this the utter end of all our love,
And shall we never meet and know each other
Again, as we have known each other here?”

Then sobbing like a child the old man cried,
“Ask me not! — Pity me, and ask no more!
For lo, I seem as one whose house has fallen
About his feet in ruins, and who stands
Living, aghast, with ashes on his head,
Clouded with horror, half awaked from sleep.
I know there is no God — Nature herself,
More mighty and more terrible than God,
Hath taught me that — but till this piteous hour
I never craved for God or named his name.
I asked not for him, craved no alms of heaven,
Nor hunger’d for another better life
Than this we live; all that I sought on earth
Was you, my child, my son. Stay with me here,
Let us remain a little more together —
And I shall be content.”
                              Then with a smile
Angelically sad, Justinian said:
“It is enough — torture your heart no more.
Hold to our faith — be strong — for though I die
Fairer than I shall live. Now, read to me
That sweet preamble of Lucretius
I always loved so much, — because it brought
The very breath of fields and happy flocks,
With that great animal content and joy
Which fills the earth to which we all return.”

      Then trembling, in a voice made thick with tears,
The old man at the bidding of the boy
Read the rich periods of the only bard
Who faced with fearless front unconquerable
That shape so many see, — a Skeleton
Standing amid the universal snow
Of seeds atomic, pointing dimly down.

“For of the mighty scheme of heaven and gods
I now shall sing, unfolding to thy gaze
The everlasting principles of things
Whence Nature forms, increases, and sustains
All forms that are, and whither as they die
She evermore dissolves each form again.
These principles we in our human speech
Call matter or the generative seeds,
Bodies primordial whence all things that be
Were marvellously fashioned from the first.” [1]

With eyes half closed, his face suffused with sunlight,
The pale boy listen’d, while the verse flow’d on.

“This darkness, this deep shadow of the mind,
Neither the sunrise nor the darts of day
Have power to scatter; but it shall dissolve
Before the light of reason and the face
Of Nature’s self. First, for exordium,
Lay thou to heart this first great principle —
Nought e’er is form’d from nought by power divine . . .
But when we have studied deep and comprehend
That power divine can ne’er make nought from nought,
Then shall we know that which we seek to know —
How everything is fashion’d first and last,
And all things wrought without the help of God!” [2]

      So far he read, and paused; and as he paused
A change came o’er the face he gazed upon,
As if a finger touch’d the brow and eyes.
The father shriek’d and shudder’d, shrinking back
In nameless awe, for in a moment’s space,
Though all the air was sunny overhead,
And all the lake was golden at their feet,
The twain were cover’d with a shadow cast
By some dark shape unseen.
                              “Hold my hand, father,
For I am dying!”
                    Then the white face flash’d
To one wild look of passionate farewell,
And silently, without another word,
The last sad breath was drawn.
                              They bore him in —
How and by whom the gentle deed was done
The father knew not, being dazed and stunn’d,
But follow’d moaning, while upon his bed
They placed him down; and when that afternoon
A pallid sister from the convent came
To do the last sad offices of death,
The old man only watch’d her in a trance
And made no sign; but when, her kind task done,
She touch’d him, saying in her own soft speech,
“Signor, I trust he died in the full faith
Of Christ our Lord!” he gave a laugh so strange,
So terrible and yet so pitiful,
She thought his wits were gone.
                              Fair as a star,
Justinian lay upon his bed of death,
And seeing him so young and beautiful
The sister gathered lilies in the garden
And strew’d them on his breast; then reverently
She bless’d him; and the old man look’d at her,
Trembling as in a trance; but suddenly
Uprising, in a hollow voice he cried,
Pointing her to the door with quivering hands,
“Begone! profane him not! from life to death
I kept him safe from Superstition’s touch!
My boy! you shall not take him from me now!

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The following is the original text of the passages of Lucretius translated in the text and printed in italics: —

^  Nam tibi de summa coeli ratione deûmque
Disserere incipiam, et rerum primordia pandam;
Unde omnes natura creet res, auctet alatque;
Quove eadem rursum natura perempta resolvat;
Quæ nos materiem, et genitalia corpora rebus
Reddenda in ratione vocare, et semina rerum
Appellare suëmus, et hæc eadem usurpare
Corpora prima, quod ex illis sunt omnia primis.
                              De Rer. Nat., Book i. 54-62.

^  Hunc igitur terrorem animi tenebrasque necesse est
Non radii solis, neque lucida tela diei
Discutiant, sed naturæ species, ratioque:
Principium hinc cujus nobis exordia sumet,
Nullam rem e nihilo gigni divinitus unquam. . . .
Quas ob res, ubi viderimus nil posse creari
De nihilo, tum, quod sequimur, jam rectius inde
Perspiciemus, et unde queat res quæque creari,
Et quo quæque modo fiant opera sine divûm.
                              De Rer. Nat., Book i. 147-151, 155-159.