Thursday, February 8, 2018

One Salt

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.
~C.G. Jung

In honor of Valentine's Day approaching, we have a poem that makes me smile. Who doesn't smile at an ardent lover, who wishes he and his love could combine to become various types of salt? He just wants to spend eternity amalgamated with her, is all. (They say that the poet was unknown, but it seems like he leaves a pretty good clue at the end, if you knew any poet-chemists named Johnson who married a Briggs...)

The Chemist To His Love
By Unknown, 1843

I love thee, Mary, and thou lovest me,
Our mutual flame is like th' affinity
That doth exist between two simple bodies:
I am Potassium to thine Oxygen.
'Tis little that the holy marriage vow
Shall shortly make us one. That unity
Is, after all, but metaphysical.
Oh, would that I, my Mary, were an acid,
A living acid; thou an alkali
Endow'd with human sense, that, brought together,
We both might coalesce into one salt,
One homogeneous crystal. Oh, that thou
Wert Carbon, and myself were Hydrogen;
We would unite to form olefiant gas,
Or common coal, or naphtha, would to heaven
That I were Phosphorus, and thou wert Lime!
And we of Lime composed a Phosphuret.
I'd be content to be Sulphuric Acid,
So that thou might be Soda. In that case
We should be Glauber's Salt. Wert thou Magnesia
Instead we'd form the salt that's named from Epsom.
Couldst thou Potassa be, I Aqua-fortis,
Our happy union should that compound form,
Nitrate of Potash--otherwise Saltpetre.
And thus our several natures sweetly blent,
We'd live and love together, until death
Should decompose the fleshly tertium quid,
Leaving our souls to all eternity
Amalgamated. Sweet, thy name is Briggs
And mine is Johnson. Wherefore should not we
Agree to form a Johnsonate of Briggs?


Sally Murphy has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Sally!


Jane @ said...

Oh my goodness, I think this must be one of the nerdiest things I've ever read! :-D

Linda B said...

I don't remember my chemistry and now I wish I did! Only a poet-chemist could write with such ardent "bonds"! Thanks, Tabatha, and Happy Valentine's Day to you. May all your chemicals that day be sweet!

Joyce Ray said...

Leave it to you to discover poetic "elements" unknown to us! I hope the poet's love was also a chemist, so she'd understand the tribute. Great choice for almost Valentine's Day!

jama said...

Wow, quite an original love poem, I must say. Positively explosive. :) Yes, very nerdy. Table salt will never be the same again . . .

Brenda Harsham said...

Nerdy but not overly wordy. Just enough amalgamation of compounds to confound the naysayers who don't believe in love at all. LOL A treat. I really enjoyed that.

Kay said...

I love this--even though I've long forgotten my high school chemistry. I'm passing it on to my daughter, who is majoring in biochemistry. She will get all the chemistry allusions!

Sarah Grace Tuttle said...

This made me laugh out loud. I love it!

Mary Lee said...

Poetry and chemistry. Whoda thunk they'd be such naturals together?!?

Michelle Kogan said...

Beauty and coalescing poem, I think the arts and science fuel and feed each other, thanks Tabatha and Happy Valentines Day!

Tara Smith said...

Like Linda, I wish I remembered more of that solitary chemistry class I took way back in high school, Tabatha - but I did enjoy saying those terms in a whole new context!

Diane Mayr said...

We'd live and love together, until death
Should decompose...

OMG! Love it!

Robyn Hood Black said...

HA! Where did you find this? Of course, YOU would find it. Having "chemistry" was a thing many generations ago, I guess! XOXO

Ruth said...

How sweet! I hope his love understood all the references better than I do!

Catherine said...

Thank you for sharing this fun and clever poem, Tabatha! I love the Jung quote at the top of your post, too.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Oh my. I'm feeling a bit awkward here, walking in on this intimate chemical transaction! When it comes to ardent lovers though, nothing beats Windshield Wiper. ;)

Carol said...

Not sure why this made me laugh! I hope Mary was a chemist too, so she understood the metaphors!

Christie Wyman said...

Love the geeked out valentine, Tabatha!

Heidi Mordhorst said...

I'm pretty sure this poem is by Billy Collins...
: )