“Meaning is the extension of the hands of something other: something unimagined.” Science and poetry both search for the essence of truth and existence. For this reason, they have served as a rich store of new ideas for one another from the very first spark of intelligent speech along the path of human evolution. From Shakespeare’s metaphysical “The Phoenix and the Turtle” to Miroslav Holub’s “Brief Reflection on the Theory of Relativity” the poet has utilized the emerging technologies and current theoretical thought of the time to inspire, provoke, and share new insight. The soul of science is an innocent one that along with poetry seeks beauty and harmony.
The connection between science and poetry rests on parallel modes of consciousness. Examining the similarities in thought from a phenomenological perspective, we see how the two modes reveal the ways things are perceived and how perception itself has been altered in both poetry and science. This symbiosis in thought, language, and belief from contemporary Anglophone poetry interacts with several fields of international science.
For example, German scientists and poets both write in German, but the scientific work will be published worldwide in English. The German poets’ work will only be translated if they become famous first. If a German scientist discovers the nature of uncertainty, years later an English-speaking poetry student will be writing an “Ode to Heisenberg” because of what she once read in her high school science book.
The interstices between science and poetry are many and all are possibilities for the poetry of Italo Calvino, Alan Lightman, Al Zolynas, Lavinia Greenlaw, and their peer poets. In this, we see the exchange of ideas through the discussions between science and poetry truly dissolving the once impermeable borders between all nations.