There are moments when everything makes sense.
For just a second nothing is at odds.
Simplicity abounds, becomes immense;
earns the approval of a thousand gods.
It’s at that moment, between wake and dream,
that all things become imaginable;
all things at once adopt a common theme.
One point of truth becomes conceivable.
Clarity of thought is clean-cut and crisp;
vagaries sharpen so ‘that’ becomes ‘this’;
images emerge, give shape to a wisp;
that which is simple, more beautiful is.
. Where stems the answer to “why is it so?”
. From the essence … in the presence of flow.
To the reader: If you haven’t had your introduction to the works of Dr Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (chick sent me high) you owe it to yourself to make that connection. Through this acquaintance you’ll meet yourself at your potential best. As the theory goes, there are deliberate steps you can take on the way to achieving flow; an essence you learn to channel from within a zone of intense satisfaction with your own condition of contentment… in pursuit of happiness.
To the poet: You can’t bottle flow; it’s a meditative energy, that through active absorption describes a form of fulfilment. My gateway to ‘flow’ is through the comfortable challenge of poetry. Effort, along with challenge, is a necessary ingredient. And so, in the right mix, these energies combine to create a state of self-contained purpose. Flow, by definition, is a dynamic stream of consciousness, coursing its way through mind and soul… in pursuit of happiness.
What business has science in beauty’s art?
Is beauty to be studied, laid out bear,
exposed, analysed, to be pulled apart;
interrogated crudely, hair by hair?
I have heard ‘beauty’ many times expressed:
“… as more than a sum of parts considered.”
I’ve heard ‘beauty’ in ratios addressed:
“…nothing more than balance, so configured.”
Beauty’s been the subject of cruel compare,
the victim of insult; likened to tart.
Beauty’s been the envy of those who care
more for head and hand than they do for heart.
. Beautiology – a science absurd,
. let bells and folly tell the truth preferred.
To the reader: The probing eye of science has long had its sights on beauty. For thousands of years the mother of science has been measuring beauty’s ratio in an attempt to identify ‘that’ alluring attraction. Beauty’s design can be artfully mimicked; incorporated into works of architecture and landscape; appropriated into fashion and ornamental crafts. Beauty, if it must be measured, reveals effortless carriage of its own perfection… a natural effect.
To the poet: Unpacked, this sonnet has some interesting design features. The three stanzas are quite different in structure but stand side-by-side in logical agreement. As three debaters, they present their case in defence of beauty’s natural stance. The first stanza questions intent, the second speaks its doubt, and the third interrogates the motive; of what the final couplet calls ‘beautiology’. All in all a well rounded debate.
What we know of air is a Priestley sum;
makes an experimental masterpiece.
Through simple observation so we come
to learn from nature; wonders shall not cease:
that air might be exhausted then restored;
made stale and then repaired; broken then fixed.
Such are the problems science has explored,
mulled over, pondered on, and stood betwixt.
How so that the planet breathes, breath for breath,
exchanging one gas for another’s use?
How so that nature freshens the smell of death,
converts putrid soup into perfumed juice?
. Through unity all things are so divined.
. Make nothing separate as should be combined.
To the reader: Throughout life, Joseph Priestly (1733-1804) travelled an awkward, and often uncomfortable, path of self-discovery. A precocious child who absorbed knowledge with sponge-like thirst. A dissenting adult who, through deep faith, sought to unify humanity’s purposeful existence. A revered polymath constricted by dogma and intolerance; a disgruntled citizen. In sum, a brave soul who introduced the world to the deity of science and rational belief.
To the poet: Joseph Priestly was a great writer; a highly respected grammarian, alas it seems not a poet. My exposure to his masterful prosaic-skill was through his writing on the investigation of air; this kid knew how to write-up an experiment. The narrative style is intoxicating; refined and rugged… phlogisticated. The scientific brain exposed for his peers to pursue; and for all else to admire. Surely another canditate for membership of ‘The Science Class You Wish You Had…‘
‘This from that‘ can be interpreted thrice;
subtle ambiguity some might say.
Otherwise expressed, a poet’s device;
so that hairs might split, so that ends might fray.
‘From this that‘ a simple alteration
from the original text, an exchange
of order, a sequenced variation:
sleight of hand, write of passage, slightly strange,
rightly plausible; curious, obtuse.
That’s the poet’s ploy, that’s the poet’s choice.
‘From that this‘ offers another excuse
to alter meaning without change of voice.
. From that this… from this that … or … this from that?
. Noteworthy differences … or idle chat?
To the reader: Variations on a theme. Subtle change. One of many interpretations. The Sciences love to monitor variation; noting change with mathematical precision. In the Arts, it’s through music that variations abound. The music industry cleverly exploits the human ear’s acuity by releasing different versions of the same song, or orchestral piece, for our listening pleasure… spot the difference.
To the poet: … another one of those puzzle poems. Word order is an important semantic tool. Sometimes it makes little difference to meaning; other times, a shift in placement can disorient the reader’s expectation. Used deliberately, a change of word order can be very effective in drawing attention to a point of difference.
There’s a lot of unknown space inside my head.
Grey matter takes account of what I know;
the rest is mere potential, adjusted,
ready to absorb my interests, to grow
in possibility, outstretch belief.
The nothingness inside my head withholds
information, sometimes allows a brief
glimpse at what might be. Just flimsy scaffolds
that bear no weight; hazy inklings at best.
Suggestions that do nothing more than hint
at provisional thoughts, points of interest;
obscurity with nothing as a splint.
. Is certainty the child of a loose joint?
. What becomes of nothing is a moot point.
To the reader: The ‘vast voluminous void’ of unknown space inside my head replicates the expanding universe; endlessly capable of absorbing dark matter. Conversion of this mysterious matter into grey matter (useful knowledge) is no easy task; before I know it I’m confused. In the face of quantum leaps I rely on established models of understanding to span the gaps. With insufficient trajectory I fall short of opposite banks and plummet none the wiser.
To the poet: In the tradition of paired sonnets, this poem partners the previous. Both reference the potential of empty space as a matter of intrigue. In the first of two, the topic was dark matter; in the second, grey matter came into focus. The emptiness of space as a metaphor for nothingness is the gateway into a look at the relationship between confusion and curiosity.
She speaks of dark matter, she seeks its clue.
She maps the empty, voluminous void
that fills the heavens with galactic glue;
such keeps the Queen of Science full employed.
Visible space (her realm) she understands.
The pull of planets and the death of stars;
the gaseous clusters that time expands;
with curiosity she’s there on Mars.
But what of the vast unknown, the unseen,
the invisible, lightless, hidden mass?
What sense does she make of the in between?
As yet, it would seem, not that much, alas!
. Chaos reigns above the Queen’s universe,
. order favours the black night … quite perverse!
To the reader: The Queen of Science is mathematics. Her realm, comprised of all things great and small, is understood through the logic of numbers. As with the best of monarchs, she is most interested in relationships; how things bond and bridge. The Queen’s interests follow the path of human curiosity: deep seas and shallow shores; heaven and earth; the living and the dead. She’s a woman of substance and structure; as real as she is abstract; as infinite as she is nothing.
To the poet: I remember flying, from here to there, with a popular science magazine as company. Page after page of ‘new science’ flipped before my eyes; with each flip came an array of impressive numbers; usually well-beyond my comprehension. Obviously impressed, I used my simple understanding to pay homage to the Queen of Science. The sonnet has a simple structure with the last stanza acting as counterpoint … but … there is much to learn.