Science and Poetry

September 1, 2010

Three poetry books were recently launched containing poems on scientific themes.  They are called Law and Impulse (maths and chemistry) Earthly Matters (biology and geology) and Holding Patterns (physics and engineering).  The project was called Science Made Marvellous, and organised by the Poets Union Inc as part of National Science Week.  All three books were edited by Brook Emery and Victoria Haritos, and the whole project was organised by Carol Jenkins.

I have a poem about Galileo in Holding Patterns and two about the Darwins (Emma and Charles) in Earthly Matters.  As an innumerate, I found the fact that I have a poem in the physics and engineering book more than funny.

For a limited time the books can be also downloaded as free PDFs from the Poets Union website at  .  (Sorry, you’ll have to copy and paste.)

Here’s my Galileo poem to whet (or blunt)  your appetite.

Galileo’s dance

Liquid turned hard, glass turned to heaven

and you saw that we must be mutable;

changed the rock sure eye of earth

into a speck, one amongst the masses,

all moving. They locked you down,

house-bound, a threat to galactic security;

to a solidity that had already mutated,

as they might have melted you on fire,

a terrorist of unrepentant reason.

So silly to say you were a still centre

from which ideas flowed. No, no,

you went far further; questioning the

questioner’s position, pulling security

blankets away from under fatty,

fixated minds of certainty.


describing detail,

you precisely put an end

to the lie that we are the answer to all.

Others would follow in the ark of wonder;

Charles waltzing hand in hand with Albert;

broad ramp providing access to genius

on wheels. Moving, always moving,

accelerating now in race-track science,

or rockets sifting star-flour for other, further Earths.

But you, with your glass, your eyes,

your paints, you showed the way.

Your gravity can still be detected,

for four hundred years is barely a blink,

a twitch in this dance without choreography.

Swinging on, we too shift, stare, move and parry

and recall long leaps first performed in Tuscany.

P.S. Cottier

2 Responses to “Science and Poetry”

  1. pscottier said

    Hello sailor(s),
    I think the boat was probably named long before my poem was published last year. The phrase ‘the music of the spheres’ has long been attributed to Galileo, so the idea of Galileo dancing is just a short leap from this.
    Penelope (P.S. Cottier)

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