Monday, May 21, 2007

Duke Altum's Poem of the Week #50

"Let's do the math," as Eminem once rapped (with admirable honesty)... hmm, 50 poems of the week, and this blog has been going for coming on two years... 52 weeks in a year... maybe "Poem of the Week" has become something of a misnomer? Maybe I should be calling this series "Duke Altum's Poem of Every Other Week"!?!

Well guess what folks, I ain't changin' it at this point... the original name has a nicer ring to it, inaccurate or not! I'll put it this way: the word "week" doesn't necessarily mean every week, it only refers to that week in which it appears! How's that for a contorted justification?

Anyway, this week's poem is noteworthy for the amount of freight it carries in just a few short verses... in these fascinating lines, the forces of poetry, science and politics combine to create a brief but powerful meditation on the turmoil and uncertainty of the created world we live in. Several aspects of Miroslav Holub's background as a poet/immunologist living in the Czech Republic come through in this short poem -- the fascination of peering at complex organisms under high magnification; the imagination of the poet's heart ("dreaming landscapes"); echoes of the political upheaval and physical/spiritual violence of war so common to Eastern Europe. Through the dual lenses of scientific observation and creative imagination, Holub presents to us an entire universe in microcosm, in all of its beauty and pain.


In the Microscope

Here too are the dreaming landscapes,
lunar, derelict.
Here too are the masses,
tillers of the soil.
And cells, fighters
who lay down their lives for a song.

Here too are cemeteries,
fame and snow.
And I hear the murmuring,
the revolt of immense estates.

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