NATURE, all parent, ancient, and divine,
O Much-mechanic mother, art is thine;
Heav'nly, abundant, venerable queen,
In ev'ry part of thy dominions seen.
Untam'd, all-taming, ever splendid light, 5
All ruling, honor'd, and supremly bright.
Immortal, first-born, ever still the same,
Nocturnal, starry, shining, glorious dame.
Thy feet's still traces in a circling course,
By thee are turn'd, with unremitting force. 10
Pure ornament of all the pow'rs divine,
Finite and infinite alike you shine; 12
To all things common and in all things known,
Yet incommunicable and alone.
Without a father of thy wond'rous frame, 15
Thyself the father whence thy essence came.
All-flourishing, connecting, mingling soul,
Leader and ruler of this mighty whole.
Life-bearer, all-sustaining, various nam'd,
And for commanding grace and beauty fam'd. 20
Justice, supreme in might, whose general sway
The waters of the restless deep obey.
Ætherial, earthly, for the pious glad,
Sweet to the good, but bitter to the bad.
All-wife, all bounteous, provident, divine, 25
A rich increase of nutriment is thine;
Father of all, great nurse, and mother kind,
Abundant, blessed, all-spermatic mind:
Mature, impetuous, from whose fertile seeds
And plastic hand, this changing scene proceeds. 30
All-parent pow'r, to mortal eyes unseen,
Eternal, moving, all-sagacious queen.
By thee the world, whose parts in rapid flow, 33
Like swift descending streams, no respite know,
On an eternal hinge, with steady course 35
Is whirl'd, with matchless, unremitting force.
Thron'd on a circling car, thy mighty hand
Holds and directs, the reins of wide command.
Various thy essence, honor'd, and the best,
Of judgement too, the general end and test. 40
Intrepid, fatal, all-subduing dame,
Life-everlasting, Parca, breathing flame.
Immortal, Providence, the world is thine,
And thou art all things, architect divine.
O blessed Goddess, hear thy suppliant's pray'r, 45
And make my future life, thy constant care;
Give plenteous seasons, and sufficient wealth,
And crown my days with lasting, peace and health.
126:* Nature, according to the theologists, as related by Proclus, in Tim. p. iv. is the last of the demiurgic causes of this sensible world, and the boundary of the latitude of incorporeal essences: and is full of reasons and powers, by which she governs the universe, every where connecting parts with their wholes. Hence p. 127 Nature is represented in this Hymn as turning the still traces of her feet with a swift whirling. For since she is the last of the demiurgic causes, her operations aptly symbolize with the traces of feet. Now the reason why the epithets of much-mechanic, all-artist, connecting, all-wife, providence, &c. are given to nature, which evince her agreement with Minerva, is because that Goddess, according to the Orphic theology, fabricated the variegated veil of nature, from that wisdom and virtue of which she is the presiding divinity. And Proclus in forms us, that she connects all the parts of the universe together: containing in herself intellectual life, by which she illuminates the whole, and unifying powers by which she superintends all the opposing natures of the world. Nature, therefore, from her connecting, and unifying power, and from her plenitude of seminal reasons, has an evident agreement with Minerva, whose divine arts according to the Orphic theology, reduce whatever in the universe is discordant and different, into union and consent.
Again, agreeable to this theology, primary natures impart their gifts to such as are secondary by an abundant illumination, and effects are established in the causes from which they proceed: so that in the obscure language of Heraclitus, all things are one, and one all things. Hence Nature though the last of the demiurgic causes, is with perfect conformity to this symbolical Theology, said to be both communicable and incommunicable; without a father and at the same time the father of her own being. For considered as full of operative reasons, she is communicable to every sensible nature: but considered as the representative of divine unity, she is incommunicable. And in like manner as symbolising with the first cause, she is both without any origin, and at the same time the source of her own essence.
128:12 Ver. 12.] Finite and infinite, &c. Philolaus according to Demetrius (in Laert.) published a discourse concerning Nature, of which this is the beginning φύσις δὲ ἐν τῳ κόσμῳ αῤμόχθη ἑξ ἀϖειρηον τε καὶ ὅλ# ( ) κόσμοσ καὶ τὰ ἑν αυτῳ παντα. i. e. "Nature, and the whole world, and whatever it contains. arc aptly connected together from infinites and finites."
129:33 Ver. 33.] By thee the world, &c. Since the world has an extended and composite essence, and is on this account continually separated from itself, it can alone be connected by a certain indivisible virtue infused from the divine unity. Again, since from a natural appetite, it is ever orderly moved towards good, the nature of such an appetite and motion must originate from a divine intellect and goodness. But since, from its material imperfection, it cannot receive the whole of divine infinity at once, but in a manner accommodated to its temporal nature: it can only derive it gradually and partially, as it were by drops, in a momentary succession. So that the corporeal world is in a continual state of flowing and formation, but never possesses real being; and is like the image of a lofty tree seen in a rapid torrent, which has the appearance of a tree without the reality; and which seems to endure perpetually the same, yet is continually renewed by the continual renovation of the stream.