Friday, February 12, 2016

Poetry Friday - From The Temple of Nature

In honor of Charles Darwin's birthday today, I'm sharing an excerpt from a book written by his grandfather.

From The Temple of Nature; or, the Origin of Society: A Poem, with Philosophical Notes (1803)
written by Erasmus Darwin

"Ere Time began, from flaming Chaos hurl'd
Rose the bright spheres, which form the circling world;
Earths from each sun with quick explosions burst,
And second planets issued from the first.
Then, whilst the sea at their coeval birth,
Surge over surge, involv'd the shoreless earth;
Nurs'd by warm sun-beams in primeval caves
Organic Life began beneath the waves.

"First Heat from chemic dissolution springs,
And gives to matter its eccentric wings;
With strong Repulsion parts the exploding mass,
Melts into lymph, or kindles into gas.
Attraction next, as earth or air subsides,
The ponderous atoms from the light divides,
Approaching parts with quick embrace combines,
Swells into spheres, and lengthens into lines.
Last, as fine goads the gluten-threads excite,
Cords grapple cords, and webs with webs unite;
And quick Contraction with ethereal flame
Lights into life the fibre-woven frame.—
Hence without parent by spontaneous birth
Rise the first specks of animated earth;
From Nature's womb the plant or insect swims,
And buds or breathes, with microscopic limbs.

Some may call this work didactic, but I think it's a fine early effort at using poetry to make science accessible to the average citizen.

I do hope you'll take some time today to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected by Kimberley Moran at Written Reflections. Happy poetry Friday friends!


  1. Those dudes back in the day used poetry and hymns to explain things like science, heaven, theology, love -- big concepts put into rhymed couplets. It is a seriously good effort, on all levels, even if it's not something which strikes us as "easy reading" or easy listening today.

    1. And this is why I love it!

      And I particularly love this excerpt because it reminds me of pieces of our Periodic Table crown.

  2. Hurray for Science + Poetry!!

  3. I don't think I ever knew anything about Charles Darwin's family. I read this and think of all of the "science seeds" that must have been planted in Charles' brain and heart by his grandfather.