Friday, October 2, 2009

Irrelevant Fridays!

Yay! The first weekly feature of this blog is now here: Irrelevant Fridays. Consider it an off day, a day I will use to post whatever strikes my fancy -- I aim for interesting, but I am not always the best shot. *smiles*

First up, a poem. Written by an assistant professor at MIT, and all-around smart guy (in a science-y kinda way) Scott Aaronson, it is a cute little rewrite of Walt Whitman's "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer" -- from the other side of the thinking-fence. As a former engineering student who now reads poetry, I am intimately familiar with the endless conflicts between the arts and sciences. It is fertile ground for thought. But for now, enjoy:

When I Heard the Learn'd Poet by
Scott Aaronson

When I heard the learn'd poet,
When the Freudian symbolism, the Biblical allusions, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the themes and styles, to analyze, categorize,

and criticize them,
When I sitting heard the poet where she lectured

with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the rational dry night-air, and dropped my copy of Leaves of Grass off a cliff,
And correctly predicted that it would hit the ground in 3.82 seconds.

(To see this poem side-by-side with Whitman's original, visit Aaronson's homepage )

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