On the New Physics

 
I/Blaise Pascal
“The silence of these infinite spaces frightens me:
The dark dissolves to numbered points and emptiness.
I’ve tried to write of it, but the imploding blank
 
Swallows what words I speak, absorbs the light I seek.
I prayed. I knelt, but the rings round the plafond shrank,
The stars withdrew. All things dissolve at my caress.”
 
His niece with swollen eyes lies flat, too ill to speak.
At last, the priest comes with his holy thorn to press
It to her cheek, while muttering hushed prayers of thanks.
 
When all that’s through, Pascal will trail him out, impressed
But turned in thought back to experiments with a tank
And pump that prove there is a nothing we can see.
 
II/Henry Adams
Within the twitching finger, no rhythm stirs the nerves;
Beneath the monastic mountain, the eternal atoms swerve.
 
The patterned carpet’s obverse, reveals a tangle of threads
No more wisely woven than the hair the body sheds.
 
I see machines in sunlight winding up the earth,
As if the prize of energy were an everlasting birth.
 
In every book I thumb through, at night beneath the lamp,
I feel the heavens’ dry wind, the grave’s retentive damp,
 
And know that we have outlived the play of light on stone,
To founder in the factory that rends sinew from the bone.
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Bishop Lawrence T. Persico of Erie, Pa., speaks during a meeting in late January at the headquarters of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
“I think we need complete transparency if we’re going to get the trust of the people back,” said Erie Bishop Lawrence T. Persico.
Mélanie Thierry as Marguerite Duras in “Memoir of War.” © Music Box Films
The film tells the story of a woman who worked for the German-controlled Vichy government but secretly joined the Resistance movement.
A. W. Richard Sipe (photo: Facebook)
Sipe's research into celibacy and priestly sexual behavior helped guide the work of church leaders and others responding to the clergy sexual abuse crisis.
Catholic News ServiceAugust 17, 2018
Did Pope Francis depart from Scripture and tradition in declaring the death penalty "inadmissible"? Or was his declaration rooted deeply in both?
Tobias WinrightAugust 17, 2018