Archive for September 19, 2015

A Botanic Garden of Planets

Posted in Poetry, The Universe and Stuff on September 19, 2015 by telescoper

I’ve been reading, with rapidly growing delight and astonishment, an amazing poem called The Botanic Garden , which was written by Erasmus Darwin in 1789. It is a truly wonderful work which depicts the Universe as a vast laboratory set up by a Divine Creator through verses that generate a thrilling sense of  momentum and vitality. Take this example, a passage from the First Canto, dealing with the creation of the stars and planets:

‘Let there be Light!’, proclaimed the Almighty Lord,
Astonish’d Chaos heard the potent word: – 
Through all his realms the kindly Ether runs,
And the mass starts into a million suns; 
Earths round each sun with quick explosions burst,
And second planets issue from the first; 
Bend, as they journey with projectile force, 
In bright ellipses bend their reluctant course; 
Orbs wheel in orbs, round centres centres roll, 
And form, self-balanced, one revolving Whole.

It doesn’t quite fit with modern theories of star and planet formation, but it’s certainly beautifully expressed!