A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Enjoy our special posts in the fields of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS Blog) and Social Sciences & Arts (SSA Blog)

A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

The poetry of Janet MacFadyen - where Science meets Art

photo © by Stephen Schmidt

When Science meets Art

Scientific and artistic activities have had a long and incredibly complicated, we could say "love-hate" relationship throughout human history. From time to time, they were promoting and enhancing each other, whereupon an epoch of mutual criticism and condemnation followed. Nowadays, most people imagine Science and Art somehow separately, as two distinct and incompatible essences of the human mind. As though one is dealing with the objective reality and the other with an amalgam of material world and imagination, hence the former have to be superior in reasoning to the latter. Now, that would be the case if we take the presumption that the physical world is somehow dead or could be taken out of the ceaseless motion of the Universe to be examined as an object. However, Nature is alive and in constant interaction with all of its inhabitants. 

We could speculate that the negligence towards the living character of Nature was indeed one of the main reasons we ended up with a climate crisis. Nevertheless, with the emergence of climate and environmental issues, a new vision appeared, or maybe an ancient one manifests once again. There are tendencies among various scientists and artists, in which both perspectives reconcile and bear new forms of perception towards Nature – more like a dialogue instead of research.

Janet MacFadyen – an American poet and scientific researcher – is one of the many who feels the need to change our attitude towards, and concepts of, natural phenomena. She gracefully expresses that feeling. MacFadyen transforms scientific perception into vivid poetic imagery that invokes deep insights into Nature and our connection with it. Her poems transmogrify hills and rocky formations into cities, stones and crystals into ancient teachers, rivers and brooks into the circulatory system of our living and breathing Mother Earth.

Below you can enjoy and reflect upon Janet MacFadyen's statement and meditative poetry!
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An Interview with the American poet Janet MacFadyen

photo © by Stephen Schmidt

"Being a poet is not a vocation; it's a dedication of one's life to the beauty..." - Janet MacFadyen

Last month, we presented to you some of the beautiful poems written by Janet MacFadyen. Her imagery fascinated our minds and we asked her to do an interview for our audience and share a bit more about her world, inspirations, and challenges. Now, you can enjoy her insightful answers as well as two poetic excerpts from her book Adrift in the House of Rocks.

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What does the poet say

Credit: A memorial stone for English poet Philip Larkin is laid in Poet's Corner at Westminster Abbey on November 30, 2016 in London, United Kingdom; Gettyimages

Philip Larkin

"Philip Larkin achieved acclaim on the strength of an extremely small body of work—just over one hundred pages of poetry in four slender volumes that appeared at almost decade-long intervals. These collections, especially The Less Deceived (1955), The Whitsun Weddings (1964), and High Windows (1974), present "a poetry from which even people who distrust poetry, most people, can take comfort and delight," according to X.J. Kennedy in the New Criterion. Larkin employed the traditional tools of poetry—rhyme, stanza, and meter—to explore the often uncomfortable or terrifying experiences thrust upon common people in the modern age."

Source: poetryfoundation.org

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What does the poet say

Credit: Williams in 1921; via Wikipedia


A stand of people
by an open

grave underneath
the heavy leaves

the cut and fill

for the new road

an old man
on his knees

reaps a basket-
full of

matted grasses for
his goats

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Haiku: the depths of Japanese short poems

20220108-140236pexels-pixabay-301614 Credit: Pexels

Credit: Pexels  

Haiku masters

Most probably, you have heard about the Japanese short poems called haiku. Concise but in-depth, plain yet vivid, simple but conveying philosophical meaning. It is the fruit of contemplative and focused observation of the details of nature and its prolific play with human senses and mind. That three-line poetry seems very easy to be written but believe me, it isn't. You could try but before that, enjoy those haiku poems on the theme of winter by some of the most prominent masters of Japan.

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What does the poet say

Credit: Unsplash

Edward Estlin Cummings

you shall above all things be glad and young

you shall above all things be glad and young
For if you're young, whatever life you wear

it will become you; and if you are glad
whatever's living will yourself become.
Girlboys may nothing more than boygirls need:
i can entirely her only love

whose any mystery makes every man's
flesh put space on; and his mind take off time

that you should ever think, may god forbid
and (in his mercy) your true lover spare:
for that way knowledge lies, the foetal grave
called progress, and negation's dead undoom.

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance

— e.e. cummings

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What did the poet say

Credit: Charles Baudelaire by Étienne Carjat, 1863; via Wikipedia

Charles Baudelaire


Music uplifts me like the sea and races
Me to my distant star,
Through veils of mist or through ethereal spaces,
I sail on it afar.

With chest flung out and lungs like sails inflated
Into the depth of night
I escalade the backs of waves serrated,
That darkness veils from sight.

I feel vibrating in me the emotions
That storm-tossed ships must feel.
The fair winds and the tempests and the oceans

Sway my exultant keel.
Sometimes a vast, dead calm with glassy stare
Mirrors my dumb despair.

- from Flowers of Evil

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What does the poet say: Arseny Tarkovsky

Credit: Arseny Tarkovsky in the mid 1930s; Wikipedia


Man has but one body,
as lone as a loner,
The soul has had enough of
This sheer shell
With ears and eyes
the size of fivepense coins
And skin, all scars,
hung on the skeleton.

The soul flies through the cornea
To the well of heaven,
To the icy wheel spoke of
the bird-drawn chariot,
And through the bars
of its living prison, it hears
the rattle of forests and fields,
the trumpet of the seven seas.

the soul without a body is piteous,
like a body without a shirt, —
stripped of intent, or deed,
design, or strophe.
A riddle without a key:
Who will return again
having danced on that stage
Where no one's left to dance?

I dream of another soul,
in another garment:
It burns, flickering back and forth
From timidity to hope,
Turning to flame, like alcohol, it departs
With no shadow, through the land,
Leaving gathered lilacs
On the table, as a souvenir.

Run, child, don't lament
Over poor Eurydice,
And roll your bronze hoop
Around the world with a stick,
As long as, at a quarter of a sound,
In reply to each step,
The earth roars in your ears
Both merrily and dryly.

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What does the poet say

Credit: Pexels

Autumn the season of poetry

Day in Autumn 
By Erik Maria Rilke

After the summer's yield, Lord, it is time
to let your shadow lengthen on the sundials
and in the pastures let the rough winds fly.

As for the final fruits, coax them to roundness.
Direct on them two days of warmer light
to hale them golden toward their term, and harry
the last few drops of sweetness through the wine.

Whoever's homeless now, will build no shelter;
who lives alone will live indefinitely so,
waking up to read a little, draft long letters,   
and, along the city's avenues,
fitfully wander, when the wild leaves loosen.

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As the poet says

Credit: Gettyimages

Robert Frost

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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Sunday Quotes

Credit: gettyimages

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week."

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What does the poet say?

Photo credit: American poet Walt Whitman. This image was made in 1887 in New York, by photographer George C. Cox.; by Wikipedia

Walt Whitman

...All truths wait in all things,
They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it,
They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon,
The insignificant is as big to me as any,
(What is less or more than a touch?)

Logic and sermons never convince,
The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul.
(Only what proves itself to every man and woman is so,
Only what nobody denies is so.)...
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

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As the poet said:

Photo credit: gettyimages.com

The imagist - Ezra Pound

"And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass"
― Ezra Pound

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The Voice of 20th Century Counter-Culture

Photo credit: gettyimages.com

The most influential American poet of 20th century

Allen Ginsberg was an American poet and writer. Along with Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, which are both his student years friends, they formed the core of the Beat Generation movement. Allen Ginsberg was a vigorous public activist, who energetically opposed all forms of militarism, consumerism, and sexual, religious, and freedom of speech repressions. He was the voice of the counter-culture, working together with some of the most influential artists, musicians, and writers of the time. Ginsberg embodied the search for an alternative lifestyle, teachings, and aesthetics that 50's American intellectuals embraced. He was a Buddhist who extensively studied Eastern religious disciplines and openly promoted their practices. He lived modestly, buying his clothing in second-hand stores and residing in apartments in New York City's East Village.

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The genius of Arthur Rimbaud or the youngest Poète maudit

Image credit: gettyimages.com

Symbolist Poet

Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud (1854 – 1891) was a French poet famous for his premature talent and turbulent impulsive life. His poetry is considered one of the greatest influences on Modern literature and arts. Often, the poems of Rimbaud were treating provocative, transgressive, and surreal themes. His poetry in prose, "stream of consciousness"-like, intensive style was ahead of his time. Although he has been involved in the Symbolist movement, Rimbaud is frequently seen as a forerunner of Surrealism and 20th-century free verse poetry, especially for his A Season in Hell.

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Thoughts to reflect on: T.S.Eliot

Photo credit: gettyimages.com

The Rock

In 1934, T. S. Eliot, arguably the most prominent modernist poet, produced a play – The Rock – characterized by great allegorical, historical, and metaphysical complexity and eclecticism. Some of his most graceful religious poems derived from that text. Matter of fact, the project was part of a fund-raising contest for the collection of money for the construction of forty-five new churches. The interwar years were marked by considerable disillusionment of Christian morality and religious belief in general. The Diocese in London was worried that there is a decrease in worshiping communities in the suburbs and decided to issue an appeal for public funding. T. S. Eliot participated with his play and thus helped for the collection of at least 1,500 pounds, which would be around 107,308.0 pounds in today's currencies.

Later, the Choruses from the Rock were published as part of T. S. Eliot Collected Poems, 1909 – 1962.

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Sunday inspiration: Walt Whitman

Image credit: gettyimages.com / Portrait of Walt Whitman by  John W. Alexander

Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 - March 26, 1892) - the father of American free verse

"This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."

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