I went down by Cascadilla
Falls this evening, the stream below the falls,
and picked up a
kidney-shaped, testicular, and
thought all its motions into it,
the 800 mph earth spin,
the 190-million-mile yearly
displacement around the sun,
of the galaxy with the 30,000
mph of where
the sun’s going:
thought all the interweaving
into myself: dropped
the stone to dead rest:
the stream from other motions
rushing over it:
to the sky and stood still:
not know where I am going
that I can live my life
by this single creek.
– A. R. Ammons
To Madame Curie
Oft have I thrilled at deeds of high emprise,
And yearned to venture into realms unknown,
Thrice blessed she, I deemed, whom God had shown
How to achieve great deeds in woman’s guise.
Yet what discov’ry by expectant eyes
Of foreign shores, could vision half the throne
Full gained by her, whose power fully grown
Exceeds the conquerors of th’uncharted skies
So would I be this woman whom the world
Avows its benefactor; nobler far,
Than Sybil, Joan, Sappho, or Egypt’s queen.
In the alembic forged her shafts and hurled
At pain, diseases, waging a humane war;
Greater than this achievement, none, I ween.
– Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson
Apologies for any formatting issues; the long lines, many broken over several rows, cause certain problems. I have added line numbers in an attempt to make it easier to follow. The poem rhymes in couplets.
from The Blues: A Literary Eclogue
London – Before the Door of a Lecture Room
[Enter Tracy, meeting Inkel.]
Tra: What, won’t you return to the lecture? (40)
Ink: Why, the place is so cramm’d, there’s not room for a spectre.
Besides, our friend Scamp is to-day so absurd—
Tra: How can you know that till you hear him?
Ink: I heard
Quite enough; and, to tell you the truth, my retreat
Was from his vile nonsense, no less than the heat. (45)
Tra: I have had no great loss then?
Ink: Loss! – such a palaver!
I’d inoculate sooner my wife with the slaver
Of a dog when gone rabid, than listen two hours
To the torrent of trash which around him he pours,
Pump’d up with such effort, disgorged with such labour, (50)
That— come – do not make me speak ill of one’s neighbour.
Tra: I make you!
Ink: Yes, you! I said nothing until
You compell’d me, by speaking the truth—
Tra: To speak ill?
Is that your deduction?
Ink: When speaking of Scamp ill,
I certainly follow, not set an example. (55)
The fellow’s a fool, an impostor, a zany.
Tra: And the crowd of to-day shows that one fool makes many.
But we two will be wise.
Ink: Pray, then, let us retire.
Tra: I would, but—
Ink: There must be attraction much higher
Than Scamp, or the Jews’ harp he nicknames his lyre, (60)
To call you to this hotbed.
Tra: I own it – ’tis true –
A fair lady—
Ink: A spinster?
Tra: Miss Lilac!
Ink: The Blue!
Tra: The angel!
Ink: The devil! why, man,
Pray get out of this hobble as fast as you can.
You wed with Miss Lilac! ‘twould be your perdition: (65)
She’s a poet, a chymist, a mathematician.
Tra: I say she’s an angel!
Ink: Say rather an angle.
If you and she marry, you’ll certainly wrangle.
I say she’s a Blue, man, as blue as the ether.
Tra: And is that any cause for not coming together? (70)
Ink: Humph! I can’t say I know any happy alliance
Which has lately sprung up from a wedlock with science.
She’s so learned in all things, and fond of concerning
Herself in all matters connected with learning,
Ink: I perhaps may as well hold my tongue; (75)
But there’s five hundred people can tell you you’re wrong.
– Lord Byron
Go on a starlit night,
stand on your head,
leave your feet dangling
outwards into space,
and let the starry
firmament you tread
be, for the moment,
your elected base.
Feel Earth’s colossal weight
of ice and granite,
of molten magma,
water, iron, and lead;
and briefly hold
this strangely solid planet
your strangely solid head.
– Piet Hein