We’re made of stars. The scientific team
Flashes a blue and green computer chart
Of the universe across my TV screen
To prove its theory with a work of art:
Temperature shifts translated into waves
Of color, numbers hidden in smooth lines.
“At last we have a map of ancient Time”
One scientist says, lost in a rapt gaze.
I look at the bright model they’ve designed,
The Big Bang’s fury frozen into laws,
Pleased to see it resembles a sonnet,
A little frame of images and rhyme
That tries to glitter brighter than its flaws
And trick the truth into its starry net.
From: Verse & Universe Poems About Science and Mathematics Edited by Kurt Brown
There are many fine poems in this volume – I recommend this book even if you are merely marginally interested in poetry. And this is a collection of American poems written in the second half of the the last century, Kurt Brown, the volumes editor describes in the Introduction:
In the interest of focus I have chosen only American poets writing in the second half of the this century, (20th century obviously! Unless someone has invented a time machine and didn’t tell me!) and I made a distinction, early on, between science and technology. By Science, I mean the pure study of the universe and all it contains for the sake of knowledge and understanding alone, keeping in mind the Latin root of the word scire, to know. Technology, it seems to me, is really the application of scientific principles for practical, and economic ends.
Just about every poem in this volume is by a poet, surprisingly enough, rather than a scientist; although there are a couple of exceptions:
With two notable exceptions – Loren Eisely (naturalist, anthropologist, paleontologist) and Roald Hoffmann (recipient of the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1981) – the poets represented here are not scientists. The work they produce is not science, but art. Poems focusing on scientific themes – like any other poems – wind up as disquisitions on loneliness or chance, love, praise, hope, despair, or any number of other subjects from the timeless infinity of human experience.
Incidentally, one of Roald Hoffmann’s poems is a blockbuster. Actually, he’s quite good. Stay tuned!