Matter mingled and massed into indissoluble union
Does not exist. For we see how wastes each separate substance;
So flow piecemeal away, with the length'ning centuries, all things,
Till from our eye by degrees that old self passes, and is not.
Still Universal Nature abides unchanged as aforetime.
Whereof this is the cause. When the atoms part from substance,
That suffers loss; but another is elsewhere gaining in increase:
So that, as one thing wanes, still a second bursts into blossom,
Soon, in its turn, to be left. Thus draws this Universe always
Gain out of loss; thus live we mortals one on another.
Burgeons one generation, and one fades. Let but a few years
Pass, and a race has arisen which was not: as in a racecourse,
One hand on to another the burning torch of Existence.
(Titus Lucretius Carus)
96? - 55 BC
Author of De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Reality)
Translated from the Latin by C.S. Calverley
Photo by J. White