....from 'Poetry Splash!' e-zine Issue 019
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<<THE ACCELERATING UNIVERSE
-An Article By: Arvind Passey.
If I ask you all to 'hitch your wagon to a star' I wouldn't be asking you
to become an astronaut nor would I want you to start an indepth study of
astrology. All I want is that you write more and better poetry...and to
look towards physics & the universe for guidance.
What is true for science must be true for the writing of poetry too. Mario
Livio, an astronomer 'agues that all beautiful scientific theories possess
three essential attributes: symmetry, simplicity and an adherence to the
generalised Copernican principle.'
Let us see how we can apply these attributes to the writing of poetry:
What is needed in poetry is rhythm and a dance of words and thoughts
coherent enough to communicate from the most receptive grey cells to the
other extremity. All this must remain true whatever form a poem adopts. It
is not important when a poem was written...from the earliest times to
anytime in the future, these attributes would hold true.
So symmetry is the property of remaining the same under certain
transformations. That is, if Jill, Sandra, Antwain, Pushkin, Keats and
Tulsidas choose to write a lyric on love they would be free to to give
their poem any form, choose their own words, argue in their own style, BUT
their poem must have rhythm and there must be a dance of words and
thoughts coherent enough to communicate to all. These are the fundamental
laws of poetry & the only way to implement them is to read a poem aloud to
yourself and see if your mind likes it. Believe me, your mind will not lie
Scientific theories have a tendency to replace many questions with a few,
basic equations. Same is true of poetry. It pays to avoid tortuous
explanations. It is best to use simpler and shorter syllables to introduce
rhythm. It is pragmatic to take up one thought at a time. It is a poet's
duty to remember that he is writing a poem and not a speech to be
delivered in the parliament.
A simple rule is to be on the lookout for a strange idea, and when it
comes, to explore it. Explorations remove the myths of unnavigable jungle
tangles and unclimbable peaks. "In any field, find the strangest thing and
then explore it."-- John Archibald Wheeler.
THE COPERNICAN PRINCIPLE
Scientists call the 'Copernican Principle' the principle of mediocrity.
The generalized Copernican principle simply states that the best theories
are those that do not require the observer to live in a special place in
the Universe or at a special time in history in order to be true.
A poet, therefore, need not wish he were married to Sylvia Plath to write
as Ted Hughes did! Similarly, there is hardly any point in wishing oneself
poverty, misery, lonliness, insanity etc to be able to write poetry.
Poetry can be written by anyone, anywhere and at any time. A poem simply
has to adhere to symmetry and simplicity. Importantly, all the best poems
that we remember and relish reading are probably mediocre. Let the smart
ones remain in textbooks and on shelves of researchers, that is, if they
are able to make it to those places. The best poems are those that do not
require the reader to live in a special place in the Universe or at a
special time in history in order to read and fall in love with it.
(In the next issue we will talk about energy levels and the gaps in poetry