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Before the Sea and Lande were made, and Heaven that all doth hide,
In all the worlde one onely face of nature did abide,
Which Chaos hight, a huge rude heape, and nothing else but even
A heavie lump and clottred clod of seedes togither driven,
Of things at strife among themselves, for want of order due.
No sunne as yet with lightsome beames the shapelesse world did vew.
No Moone in growing did repayre hir hornes with borowed light.
Nor yet the earth amiddes the ayre did hang by wondrous slight
Just peysed by hir proper weight. Nor winding in and out
Did Amphitrytee with hir armes embrace the earth about.
For where was earth, was sea and ayre, so was the earth unstable.
The ayre all darke, the sea likewise to beare a ship unable.
No kinde of thing had proper shape, but ech confounded other.
For in one selfesame bodie strove the hote and colde togither,
The moist with drie, the soft with hard, the light with things of weight.
This strife did God and Nature breake, and set in order streight.
The earth from heaven, the sea from earth, he parted orderly,
And from the thicke and foggie ayre, he tooke the lightsome skie.
Which when he once unfolded had, and severed from the blinde
And clodded heape, he setting eche from other did them binde
In endlesse friendship to agree. The fire most pure and bright,
The substance of the heaven it selfe, bicause it was so light
Did mount aloft, and set it selfe in highest place of all.
The second roume of right to ayre, for lightnesse did befall.
The earth more grosse drew down with it eche weighty kinde of matter,
And set it selfe in lowest place. Againe, the waving water
Did lastly chalenge for his place, the utmost coast and bound,
Of all the compasse of the earth, to close the stedfast ground.
Now when he in this foresaid wise (what God so ere he was)
Had broke and into members put this rude confused masse,
Then first bicause in every part, the earth should equall bee,
He made it like a mighty ball, in compasse as we see.
And here and there he cast in seas, to whome he gave a lawe:
To swell with every blast of winde, and every stormie flawe.
And with their waves continually to beate upon the shore,
Of all the earth within their boundes enclosde by them afore.
Moreover, Springs and mighty Meeres and Lakes he did augment,
And flowing streames of crooked brookes in winding bankes he pent.
Of which the earth doth drinke up some, and some with restlesse race
Do seeke the sea: where finding scope of larger roume and space,
In steade of bankes, they beate on shores. He did commaund the plaine
And champion groundes to stretch out wide: and valleys to remaine
Aye underneath: and eke the woods to hide them decently
With tender leaves: and stonie hilles to lift themselves on hie.
And as two Zones doe cut the Heaven upon the righter side,
And other twaine upon the left likewise the same devide,
The middle in outragious heat exceeding all the rest:
Even so likewise through great foresight to God it seemed best,
The earth encluded in the same should so devided bee,
As with the number of the Heaven, hir Zones might full agree.
Of which the middle Zone in heate, the utmost twaine in colde
Exceede so farre, that there to dwell no creature dare be bolde.
Betweene these two so great extremes, two other Zones are fixt,
Where temprature of heate and colde indifferently is mixt.
Now over this doth hang the Ayre, which as it is more fleightie
Than earth or water: so againe than fire it is more weightie.
There hath he placed mist and cloudes, and for to feare mens mindes,
The thunder and the lightning eke, with colde and blustring windes.
But yet the maker of the worlde permitteth not alway
The windes to use the ayre at will. For at this present day,
Though ech from other placed be in sundry coasts aside,
The violence of their boystrous blasts, things scarsly can abide.
They so turmoyle as though they would the world in pieces rende,
So cruell is those brothers wrath when that they doe contende.
And therefore to the morning graye, the Realme of Nabathie,
To Persis and to other lands and countries that doe lie
Farre underneath the Morning starre, did Eurus take his flight.
Likewise the setting of the Sunne, and shutting in of night
Belong to Zephyr. And the blasts of blustring Boreas raigne,
in Scythia and in other landes set under Charles his waine.
And unto Auster doth belong the coast of all the South,
Who beareth shoures and rotten mistes, continuall in his mouth.
Above all these he set aloft the cleare and lightsome skie,
Without all dregs of earthly filth or grossenesse utterlie.
The boundes of things were scarsly yet by him thus pointed out,
But that appeared in the heaven, starres glistring all about,
Which in the said confused heape had hidden bene before,
And to th'intent with lively things eche Region for to store,
The heavenly soyle, to Gods and Starres and Planets first he gave.
The waters next both fresh and salt he let the fishes have.
The suttle ayre to flickring fowles and birdes he hath assignde.
The earth to beasts both wilde and tame of sundrie sort and kinde.
Howbeit yet of all this while, the creature wanting was,
Farre more devine, of nobler minde, which should the residue passe
In depth of knowledge, reason, wit, and high capacitie,
And which of all the residue should the Lord and ruler bee.
Then eyther he that made the worlde, and things in order set,
Of heavenly seede engendred Man: or else the earth as yet
Yong, lustie, fresh, and in hir floures, and parted from the skie,
But late before, the seede thereof as yet held inwardlie.
The which Prometheus tempring straight with water of the spring,
Did make in likenesse to the Gods that governe everie thing.
And where all other beasts behold the ground with groveling eie,
He gave to Man a stately looke replete with majestie.
And willde him to behold the Heaven wyth countnance cast on hie,
To marke and understand what things were in the starrie skie.
And thus the earth which late before had neyther shape nor hew,
Did take the noble shape of man, and was transformed new.

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load focus Latin (Hugo Magnus, 1892)
load focus English (Brookes More, 1922)
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    • George W. Mooney, Commentary on Apollonius: Argonautica, 1.496
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