Friday, June 11, 2010

Poetry & particle physics

Has anyone else been following the BBC’s awesome Atom programme these past few weeks? OK, I know it conforms to the formula of similar TV Science shows: sweeping panoramas of Earth and Space, ghosted equations floating across the screen and a casually dressed scientist walking across desert landscapes in casual attire, but the message it conveys, Wow! As many of us have always suspected, nothing is as it is, and matter (ergo the material world) is an illusion.

So what has poetry got to do with this? Well, poetry will prove to be as intangible as reality, but as meaningful as a presupposed vacuum, when the torch of science finally gets to shine on it. Poetry will take its place as the creative manifestation of the exploratory impulse in the arts, and I, humble poet and follower of these trends in particle physics, consumer of popular science and interpreter of such to anyone who wants to listen, will be shown to be at the forefront of this poetic Hiroshima.

Cue a poem I wrote over twenty years ago, part of my collection Signs (available on Amazon or from my website):

Speckled Universe

I see fragments of a sun
split by infinities
into the normal parameters:
Earth; Moon; stars.
All black, except for
the speckled space
everything is composed of.

I can’t stop there;
inside the wieldy atom
protons, nucleons, quarks
split sub-infinitesimally into
further components. Lurks
behind any of them,
fragmentary meteorites,
the face of the aliens?
Should I smile politely?

The humming world goes by:
inside a test-tube, whole galaxies
millions of worlds, that it would take
all our evolution to cross to
over a great divide,
might be living
breathing
the fire of existence.

What goes on inside
the elements
what goes on outside
this frosty hole?
Look, the world our Earth
is only one of many
green, blue and white-wisped
worlds, and
shall we still be alone?