Saturday, September 19, 2015

Seeing Science With the Eyes of a Poet

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
W.B. Yeats

 Our week has been filled with wonders - rainbows, dragonflies, and rabbits in the yard - just the sort of things that usually lead us into science studies and adventures.

However, our week started out with a visit from our favorite fall insects, wooly aphids (or fairy bugs as we like to call them).  Up close they're not much to look at, but zooming through the autumn air, quickly, with newly formed wings, moving from summer to wintering trees - they look like a snowstorm of fairies.

Watching the girls (and D) jump up from lunch to rush outside to catch a fairy bug or two, I couldn't help but think that sometimes it's nice to take our scientist caps off, and to think like poets.

Instead of labeling our photos, or searching out BBC-ish documentaries about our finds, for the rest of the week we tried to match what we saw to poetry.

So, for the dragonfly sunning himself on our sidewalk we read...

by Alfred Lord Tennyson

"Today I saw the dragon-fly
Come from the wells where he did lie.
An inner impulse rent the veil
Of his old husk: from head to tail
Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.
He dried his wings: like gauze they grew;
Thro' crofts and pastures wet with dew
A living flash of light he flew."

And, when the sun shifted just enough in the sky to wash our walls and entryway in morning rainbows, we found...

The Rainbow Never Tells Me
by Emily Dickinson

The rainbow never tells me
That gust and storm are by,
Yet is she more convincing
Than Philosophy.

My flowers turn from Forums --
Yet eloquent declare
What Cato couldn't prove me
Except the birds were here!

 And, for our fuzzy friend, nibbling the grass out front, while we couldn't find just the right poem, we found a poem by an author who, we are sure, would have loved our guest as much as we do.

We Have a Little Garden
by Beatrix Potter

We have a little garden,
A garden of our own,
And every day we water there
The seeds that we have sown.  

We love our little garden,
And tend it with such care,
You will not find a faded leaf
Or blighted blossom there.

Because sometimes to think like a scientist, you have to start out as a poet, don't you think?

“The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.”
Albert Einstein


Phyllis said...


Kylie said...

oh I love this! I can feel a whole unit of connecting science with poetry brewing. Fabulous!

Camie Madsen said...

This reminds me that I need to bring more poetry into my homeschool. I love the connections going on here.

Ticia said...

Many of the best scientists were also poets and artists.

Anya said...

Absolutely lovely!

Angelic Scalliwags said...

There is a peace about the way you home school which is always very lovely to see. I love your poetry choices and the route which you took to read them!

Natalie PlanetSmartyPants said...


maryanne @ mama smiles said...

I love this post. I think that science and poetry have a lot in common - both are all about looking carefully at the world and thoughtfully observing. Speaking as someone who as raised by a poet and married a scientist :)