July 1, 2010

W.S. Merwin

We have one of Mr. Merwin's poems tacked up on our office wall, to remind us that the scientific research enterprise is a deeply human, and humanistic, endeavor. Well, that's what the poem means to us, but you cannot blame the poet for this reading, because once you release a poem into the world, you cannot be held responsible for whatever people might read into it.

The poem is:

The Long and the Short of It

As long as we can believe anything
we believe in measure
we do it with the first breath we take
and the first sound we make
it is in each word we learn
and in each of them it means
what will come again and when
it is there in meal and in moon
and in meaning it is the meaning
it is the firmament and the furrow
turning at the end of the field
and the verse turning with its breath
it is in memory that keeps telling us
some of the old story about us

1 comment:

  1. Measurement is critical. We have great wine, beer, cheese, food, etc because over the eons craftspeople learned how to measure, everything to do with making them, using their senses, to guide development of the processes to make them. Right now, biomedicine is hampered by a lack of real bioassay (measurement) techniques. Consider reading Koestler's "The Case of The Midwife Toad" about the life of Paul Kammerer, who could measure aspects of life's workings no one else could. Learn how to measure, and you can learn how to master.



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