Friday, August 6, 2010

Poetry Friday - Reaching Back to Byron

Back after a long summer hiatus and much drifting this time seem to be Lord Death, Lord Sheep, and Lord Byron.....
 Trinity - The First Moment of the Atomic Age - Lord Death

Today marks the 65th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. I usually think silence is the only thing that makes sense when contemplating such a thing, or I look for a poem that's directly about the effects of war. But this year, I found something a little more subdued, a little less direct and more complicated. It addresses science and "perfect Knowledge" - at least this one stanza of the poem does - and then it goes such a strange direction that I don't know quite what to make of it. I suppose that "Julia's eyes" are a way of turning away from large mysteries (like how "Man the wonderful" can engage in warfare) and coming back to the pure pleasures of the physical, touchable world? Well, I'm still working at figuring out what it means - and isn't that what a good poem does? Makes us (or lets us) come back to it again and again, looking for more/

Here's Canto 1, Stanza 92 of Byron's Don Juan - I ran across it while reading Richard Holmes' marvelous book, The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discoverd the Beauty and Terror of Science (whew! that's quite a title....) I don't often turn to Byron....though I do turn to science...for my poetic inspiration. It's amazing to me how modern this sounds:

He thought about himself, and the whole Earth,
Of Man the wonderful, and of the Stars, 
And how the deuce they ever could have birth;
And then he thought of Earthquakes, and of Wars,
How many miles the Moon might have in girth,
Of Air-balloons, and of the many bars
To perfect Knowledge of the boundless Skies;
And then he thought of Donna Julia's eyes.

Poetry Friday today is being hosted by Laura Shovan over at Author Amok. Drift over there to check out what other people are posting! [And since Laura posted a great close-up (VERY close-up) photo of a giraffe, I'll post my favorite close-up of a sheep. ....oh, shoot, I can't find it in my files. Well, maybe next week.] Here's Lord Byron on a t-shirt, instead.

[Found my sheep - this was taken in Shropshire, England. Will load both pictures.]
Lord Sheep
Lord Byron


  1. Oh -- I'm looking forward to that sheep, Julie!

    Great excerpt. I just read "The Green Glass Sea" by Ellen Klages, about kids growing up at Los Alamos as the bomb was being developed. It's a wonderful book.

  2. Julie--

    I loved connecting poetry and science when I was teaching elementary school.

    Love your Byron selection for today--and, yes, it does sound modern.