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

An extraordinary minister of the holy Eucharist distributes Communion during Mass at Transfiguration Church in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, N.Y. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
According to a report released by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University on Jan. 22, just 33 percent of bishops in the United States think the church “should” ordain women as deacons.
Michael J. O’LoughlinJanuary 22, 2019

When the poet Mary Oliver died last week at the age of 83, my social media feeds blossomed into a field of tributes.

Lisa AmplemanJanuary 22, 2019
Most of the undocumented immigrants who are in the United States have overstayed a visa and did not cross the border illegally, according to a new analysis from the Center of Migration Studies.
J.D. Long-GarcíaJanuary 22, 2019
The church is my home because my home was a domestic church.
Katie Prejean McGradyJanuary 22, 2019