Tuesday Poem: “Night’s Magic” by Helen Heath
Night’s Magic ………………………………………………..Sir Isaac Newton (1643 –1727)
"Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians." – John Maynard Keynes.
When Isaac closes his eyes
he is hanging, arms outstretched
only faith keeps him
from falling – a magic trick.
In his left hand is the Book of Revelations
in the right, the Book of Nature,
written in geometry.
He opens his eyes to take note
of God’s will in action. Observations
must be interpreted –
bodies in motion, fruit from the tree.
Reclusive, he experiments upon himself,
slides a bodkin into his eye socket
between eyeball and bone
until he sees severall white darke
& coloured circles.
Sibyls and Daemons
are still close enough
for him to hear their voices.
The sun rises so slowly it’s too hard
to pick the moment of first light
or the last of the night’s magic.
(c) Helen Heath
Published in “Graft” (Victoria University Press, 2012)
Reproduced here with permission.
About The Poem:
On June 24 I posted a “What I’m Reading” feature on Helen Heath’s “Graft” in which I quoted the first few lines of Night’s Magic. I also commented that:
“One of the aspects that immediately interested me with this book was what I call the “history of science” poems, focused around such seminal figures as Sir Isaac Newton (Night’s Magic), Marie Curie (Radiant), astronomer Beatrice Tinsley (Spiral Arms) and Galileo Galilei (And Yet It Moves.) The poem Making Tea In The Universe, which won the inuagural ScienceTeller Poetry Award in 2011, is also part of this sequence.”
Given my interest in both history and science, I noted that this was possibly my favourite sequence in the collection—although I also very much enjoyed the fairy tale retelling sequence as well and featured the prose poem, Fairytale V: O Brother (Hansel & Gretel) here on July 3.
You may also listen to my radio interview with Helen, recorded for Women on Air, Plains 96.9FM, here.
I am grateful to Helen for allowing me to feature Night’s Magic here in full today.
About the Poet:
Helen Heath is the author of Graft, a collection of poems. In 2009 she completed an MA in Creative Writing at the IIML, where she is currently working toward her PhD. Her research project explores how science is represented in poetry. She is using this research to write poems about the intersect between people and technology. Helen won the inaugural ScienceTeller Poetry Award in 2011 for her poem ‘Making Tea in the Universe’. Her writing has been published in many journals in New Zealand, Australia, the UK and the US. Helen’s chap-book of poems called Watching for Smoke was published by Seraph Press in 2009. She blogs at helenheath.com and writes poetry and essays.
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