Friday, October 30, 2015

A Poem for Stephen Hawking

On seeing the Enterprise's warp engine while visiting the set of Star Trek: The Next Generation (where he would briefly play himself in the 1993 episode Descent, Part I), Hawking smiled and said: I'm working on that.


"Black Holes - Monsters in Space" by NASA/JPL-Caltech

Today we have a poem by Sarah Howe written for Stephen Hawking, followed by a video of Stephen Hawking reading it himself. As slowly as he speaks, I am guessing it took him a whole day to do this reading. British artist Bridget Smith added the visuals (graphite particles in motion) to the video.

Relativity
by Sarah Howe
for Stephen Hawking

When we wake up brushed by panic in the dark
our pupils grope for the shape of things we know.

Photons loosed from slits like greyhounds at the track
reveal light’s doubleness in their cast shadows

that stripe a dimmed lab’s wall — particles no more ―
and with a wave bid all certainties goodbye.

For what’s sure in a universe that dopplers
away like a siren’s midnight cry? They say

a flash seen from on and off a hurtling train
will explain why time dilates like a perfect

afternoon; predicts black holes where parallel lines
will meet, whose stark horizon even starlight,

bent in its tracks, can’t resist. If we can think
this far, might not our eyes adjust to the dark?




The Poetry Friday round-up is at Check It Out.

13 comments:

Author Amok said...

The opening stanza of the poem calls the reader to look carefully. Very cool poem. Thanks for posting it, Tabatha.

Linda Baie said...

The references collected about the dark and eyes 'seeing' are marvelous, aren't they? "why time dilates like a perfect afternoon". Thanks, Tabatha.

Donna Smith said...

I love the background image to the video to go with the poem. Thanks for sharing, Tabatha!

cb hanek said...

Thanks so much for sharing! ...To paraphrase a Star Trek opening line...Poets have a way of taking us to where we haven't gone before. In ordinary contexts, we often grope for words (as if waking to the darkness), and the poet finds just the right variety, complexity, and sequence to awe us with a vision of something familiar that was always there, a taken-for-granted biological process--previously unrecognized, unseen. Amazing! Poets never cease to make me more grateful for a variety of gifts--in this case, vision. God bless you!

Buffy Silverman said...

Some of this is beyond me...but very cool to read.And maybe this is what good poetry does: gropes for the shape of things we know, revealing light in the shadows.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Wow! Thought-provoking. I love "what’s sure in a universe that dopplers away like a siren’s midnight cry?"

Mary Lee said...

What an amazing tribute. I also loved the line JoAnn picked out!

Tabatha said...

Me, too, Mary Lee!

Diane Mayr said...

Me, three! Probably because it's so surprising to hear doppler used as a verb.

Diane Mayr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tara Smith said...

Yes, this is the line that call for a stop and think:For what’s sure in a universe that dopplers
away like a siren’s midnight cry?
The video was also otherworldly - the stars, and that disembodied voice.

Becky Shillington said...

This is so cool, Tabatha! Thanks so much for sharing!

Catherine said...

I am in awe of the way Howe begins and ends this poem "in the dark" and then fills it with light. Thank you so much for sharing it (and the video) today!