Sunday, July 06, 2003

science and poetry

Most people see no connection between poetry and science and even go so far as to claim that science destroys poetry. When Newton came up with all his famous laws, especially the experiments he did to prove that light consists of seven colours using a prism, John Keats accused him 'because he destroyed the poetry of the rainbow by reducing it to a prism'. Richard Dawkins used the same metaphor- "unweaving the rainbow" to explore the reasons why science is and can be seen as beauty. However, it's not an easy task: speak the word 'science' and one immediately thinks of heavy machinery and lab coats. It is difficult to understand where the beauty comes from. Another scientist who tried to show beauty in science was Nobel prize winning Physicist, Richard Feynman, who in all his books, dramatized the beautiful aspects of science, basically saying that with science one can appreciate nature at an entirely different level.

But science in poetry is not entirely an orphan. Several poets have used scientific metaphors in their work and still continue to do today. Here is a link to an indepth article (pdf) discussing the connection between poetry and science.

The purpose of this mini speech is to introduce a new project that I want to start: a cycle of poems with science as the basic tool. I'm thinking of calling it "Love, Loss and Science" which will basically be an exploration of using science and scientific principles as a metaphor for love and loss.
The following poem is the one that started it all, so please tell me what you think of it.


Like the ancient star namers
I too thought
That the brightness of your star
meant that you were
very close to me

But, years later,
After they invented telescopes & such,
I realised, with sorrow,
We are not even
in the same galaxy.

(note: see this for more explanations)