Thursday, December 31, 2009

To a Blackbird (for Auld Lang Syne )

Familiar, commonplace,


beneath the trees

a blackbird works the leaves.


Searching, delving,


and through gold rings

looks up at me,

then stirs the fallen leaves of fate

with golden beak.



since the wood's birth,

our passing easy,

you working the leaves,

me tending the trees.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Herschel Uranus Keats

On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer by Keats

Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific--and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise--
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.


"Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;"

The telescopic image first seen by Hershel would have been a watery one swimming across his field of view. He first thought it was a comet. The 'Eureka!' moment, if that's what it was, came weeks later when he discovered that it was a planet.


What is fascinating is that later in his life Hershel talks about his discovery of Uranus in same terms as Keats, surely the finest example of poetry expressing a scientific discovery.


I am indebted to tonight's BBC radio programme, 'Adventures in Poetry' by Peggy Renolds for relating the story.


Picture: Voyager 2 1986

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sad Girl and Her Acorn

The sad girl thought about the acorn
she’d buried in the wet black peat;
her small treasure rotting in the unrelenting rain?

She thought about the lonely boy’s Lego
and into her dark, wet bog a pile of red and white blocks clattered.

Taking a single red block
soon huge,
white, asymmetric wings
pixilated out with tiny white bricks,
a fractal formula
(of six dimensions)
that grew soft warmth
till she lifted away
and the oak shed a pool of red leaves.

After watching the film, ‘Lilya4ever’ in Swedish by Lukas Moodysson, a relentlessly miserable story of Lilya, an Eastern European victim of sex trafficking.

The acorn is Swedish,
the Lego Danish and the image from: