Guest poem sent in by Zenobia Driver
(Poem #1450) After Reading a Child's Guide to Modern Physics
If all a top physicist knows About the Truth be true, Then, for all the so-and-so's, Futility and grime, Our common world contains, We have a better time Than the Greater Nebulae do, Or the atoms in our brains. Marriage is rarely bliss But, surely it would be worse As particles to pelt At thousands of miles per sec About a universe Wherein a lover's kiss Would either not be felt Or break the loved one's neck. Though the face at which I stare While shaving it be cruel For, year after year, it repels An ageing suitor, it has, Thank God, sufficient mass To be altogether there, Not an indeterminate gruel Which is partly somewhere else. Our eyes prefer to suppose That a habitable place Has a geocentric view, That architects enclose A quiet Euclidian space: Exploded myths - but who Could feel at home astraddle An ever expanding saddle? This passion of our kind For the process of finding out Is a fact one can hardly doubt, But I would rejoice in it more If I knew more clearly what We wanted the knowledge for, Felt certain still that the mind Is free to know or not. It has chosen once, it seems, And whether our concern For magnitude's extremes Really become a creature Who comes in a median size, Or politicizing Nature Be altogether wise, Is something we shall learn.
Note: As the son of a physicist, Auden had an enduring interest in science and the moral issues surrounding it. -- http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/poetry/outloud/auden.shtml I could not resist a poem called 'After Reading a Child's Guide to Modern Physics'. Never read a poem like this before - that compared one's life to the way it would be if one was a nebula or one were an atom. (BTW can a nebula or an atom have an identity? So 'one' in the sense of 'me' could never be a nebula right? Anyway. ) The first time I read the poem I couldn't stop grinning at consequences of the lovers kiss. And the lines 'but who/ Could feel at home astraddle/ An ever expanding saddle?' totally grabbed me. They are just too cool - the idea of some astronomical body feeling uncomfortable because it was being stretched as the universe expanded was a nice quirky way to think of the big bang theory. Wish he had taken a shot at some more science theories - Darwinism would have been interesting I think. Regards, Zenobia D. Driver [Links] Auden's reading of the poem here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/poetry/outloud/auden.shtml