Another Victorian Science poem!

This was written by Hamilton about Fourier, so really it is a Mathematics poem:





I have seen….

A curious child, who dwelt upon a tract
Of inland ground, applying to his ear
The convolutions of a smooth-lipped shell;
To which, in silence hushed, his very soul
Listened intensely; and his countenance soon
Brightened with joy; for murmurings from within
Were heard, sonorous cadences! whereby
To his belief, the monitor expressed
Mysterious union with his native sea.
Even in such a shell the Universe itself
Is to the ear of Faith: and there are times,
I doubt not, when to you it doth impart
Authentic tidings of invisible things;
Of ebb and flow and ever-during power;
And central peace, subsisting at the heart
Of endless agitation.

Far Out

Beyond the dark cartoons
Are darker spaces where
Small cloudy nests of stars
Seem to float on air.

These have no proper names:
Men out alone at night
Never look up at them
For guidance or delight,

For such evasive dust
Can make so little clear:
Much less is known than not,
More far than near.

by Philip Larkin (1922-85)


Shoemaker Levi

Shoemaker-Levy 9 Speaks

I’ll not go in a whimper

I’m a bang kind of girl;

I’ve a sling shot of self rock

stuffed in my pocket

a bunch of elemental Oort dust to hurl.


The watchers are ready

the mechanisms are trained;

I’ll give them something to remember


remember, when?


Two years ago you beckoned,

red night bright,

feigning warmth in ruddy light

and I was cold, so cold in that sky.

Had already journeyed so far in the dark, alone.


“Perijove to me, sweet one,” you called,

“brush my atmosphere

then by solar round, fly home.”

Lies. All lies.

What the cyclops says

to lure the nymph to his side.

Now comes my last dust dance ride.


And some will say:

It was her destiny.


And some will say:

She had a talent for self destruction.


And some will say:

What a waste, such a pretty girl

adorned in that string of pearls.

Did you see her toss her light in his face?

Was it white plume Jovian rage we saw

etch Io’s frozen skies?

She was slight of frame

but stratospheric deep of touch –

the comet girl Jupiter called to his side


by Jennifer Ley

Mathematicians at Work

Mathematicians at Work
hunker down on their hands and knees
and sniff the problem
poke it with ungentle fingers
rub it raw with steel wool
wad it up in a ball and cackle
then pound it flat with little mallets
watch it rise like dough (uh oh)
resume its original shape
screech, swing at it with hatchets
spatter the walls with oozing fragments
stare horrified at the shattered bits
reassembling themselves, jump up
attack the problem with icepicks
gouge holes six inches deep
and seven inches across
(chew the mangled matter
spit it out and belch) kick the thing
into a corner, remove their belts
and beat it senseless, walk off
with the answer in their pockets.

by Judith Saunders

Found at

The Astrophysicist’s Tango Partner Speaks

The Astrophysicist’s Tango Partner Speaks

Tonight I will not turn my eyes skyward
to ask the purpose of the Universe,
or wonder if the light of a particular star
had traveled longer than the Sphinx has lain
unblinking. Neither will I marvel how
the moon’s unburnished dirt makes visible
the perfections and flaws of my lover’s face;
nor will I dwell on the persistent taste of her skin
which lingers on, lingers on my tongue like
the consonants and vowels of a stubborn song.
No, I will not unnipple my lips
to brim the enigma, to hymn the common
mysteries, for they have been considered,
and though unfathomed, they have all been sung;

S. A. Oleksy



        (to the tune of "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba)
I take gels down, and put 'em up again,
        and I run 'em for another round.
I take gels down, and put 'em up again,
        and I run 'em for another round.

Sequencing DNA, sequencing DNA.

We wash the plates again, we pour the gels again,
        we wash the gels again, we flip the combs again,

Then we retrack and extract all the gel files,
        then we analyze and dump all the sample files.

No life for me, life for me, life for meeee....

I take gels down, and put 'em up again,
        and I run 'em for another round.
I take gels down, and put 'em up again,
        and I run 'em for another round.

Adapted by:
Guy Peyrot
E.coli Genome Center

Found at the wonderful site: