Sunday, December 26, 2021

Isaac Newton

This poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) was unpublished in his lifetime, and is not available on The Eldritch Dark, so here's the complete text:

Stems break, wax melts;
A thorn of thought worked earthward through his mind.
Apples and gods and mortals all came down
By natural causes or by accident.
Some not unmixed with glory:
That sweet boy, who like a murdered bird,
Fell wingless from the sun.
Rain fell, snow fell.
The magnet at the centre of the earth
Drew stars and stones and red-cheeked apples down.
What wonders fell towards that sleepless mole!
What little birds, what great and exiled wings!
Ripeness hung still and heavy from the bough.
He waited for apocalypse to fall,
Feeling the lodestone like another moon
Drawing the earth-shaped apple through the leaves.

A poem celebrating a scientist is something unusual from CAS' pen, given that the author generally had a low opinion of the rapid material progress occurring around him during the first half of the twentieth century.  

I like the way the CAS interweaves the myth of Icarus into this work, with its obvious connections to the "apple incident" for which Newton is so famous.  

While it's certainly a minor poem overall, there is some real music therein, particularly in these lines:

The magnet at the centre of the earth
Drew stars and stones and red-cheeked apples down.

Like CAS, Isaac Newton had a vision that extended to the cosmic scale, and so there is indeed some harmony between their divergent accomplishments.  

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