The Voyage of the Novum Organum

frontispiece from Novum Organum Scientiarum by Francis Bacon, art by anon


The Voyage of the Novum Organum

’Twas in the summer of ’20
When our galleon set sale.
Now gather ye, and plenty,
As I lay the fearless tale:
We soon approached the pillars bold
That Hercules himself, we’re told,
Had planted, so’s to say “Behold !
Behold these sights, and quail !
Here lies the End of the Earth, my friends,
And who knows what may lie beyond ?
It’s time to find what you’re worth, my friends,
If dareꞌst ye leave your pond.
Will you view my gates as a warning ?
Then head for home on the turning tide.
Or will you view my gates as a dawning ?
Then pass on through to the other side !”

Who knows if God shall forsake us ?
Who knows where the currents take us ?
Over the seas on our questing quest:
With our fortunes pressed for the holy grail,
As on and on we sail.

So wise old Captain Bacon
Gave the word to pass on through.
We prayed he weren’t mistaken
And a-gambling with his crew.
We sailed betwixt those ancient piers,
And set a course for new frontiers.
Once Argonauts, now pioneers !
’Twas time to earn our due.
“There lies the Start of the Earth, my friends,
When we find out what lies ahead !
It’s time to give rebirth, my friends,
It’s time to raise the dead !”

We knew great riches would await us,
All our maps were full of exes !
We dug up booty with apparatus,
And unearthed keys to fresh complexes.

Follow the clues, be smart and plucky;
Here be dragons, if we’re lucky !
Over the seas on our questing quest:
The better we guessed, the more we unveiled,
As on and on we sailed.

We plumbed that deep wide ocean
So’s to chart her reefs and bars
The first we found was motion –
It was written in the stars !
Then spied we microscopic forms –
A hidden world of tiny swarms.
We shuddered, but we rode such storms,
And better for the scars.
There lies so much joy on this Earth, my friends –
Let’s find out what we share her with !
There’s nowhere upon her in dearth, my friends –
She’s always more to give !
We sailed upon her seas of numbers,
Fathomed her amounts amounting:
Formulas and patterns slumbered –
Ev’rything, we learned, was counting.

And the point where the limit of our learning meets,
There’s always a fair wind filling our sheets.
Over the seas on our questing quest:
The more we professed, the more we regaled,
As on and on we sailed.

The further out our striving,
So the better stocked our stores.
And always we’re arriving
Onto ever-stranger shores.
And on those lands we took our drills
And tapped the streams and dug the hills
And set down bridges, rails and mills,
And just and noble laws.
We learned how the whole of the Earth, my friends,
Is built from the same few blocks, not more !
We learned how the life round her girth, my friends,
Is built from life before !
We sailed away to explore and learn,
And still there is so much more to find !
We know we can never again return
To that ancient world that we left behind.

We’ll never be bored and we’ll never be done;
We’ll never arrive at the setting sun.
Over the seas on our questing quest:
The more we progress, the higher we scale,
As on and on we sail.




fisher pen
The Fisher Space Pen



Infact, they both used pencils
Up until Nineteen Sixty-Seven,
When a privately-researched pen was announced
And NASA and Cosmonauts quickly renounced
Those flammable, lead-shedding pencils –
Americans first, with Apollo 7.
They should be so proud, that commie space-guys
Are writing with Yankie-most free-enterprise.




Richard Feynman
Richard Feynman giving a lecture on the motion of planets around the Sun


(after Walt Whitman)

When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer,
When the proofs and figures were ranged
In columns before me, to add and measure,
When shown his charts and diagrams strange,
When I, sitting, heard the Astronomer,
Where he lectured with much applause,
How soon, tired and sick, I stirred
And wander’d off by myself outdoors.
There in mystical moist night-airs,
From time to time I look’d up clear
In perfect silence at the stars,
(And thought them small, and rather near.)

This is my take on Walt Whitman’s poem of the opening line. I’ve shuffled things around and made it rhyme, but most of it is his words except for the last line. Turns out he was just a luddite after all.

Falling Worlds

Photo by Henrik Pfitzenmaier on


Falling Worlds

(After Molière, The Learnèd Ladies, Act 3, Scene 3)

Another world has passed us by
Just as we were sleeping,
And fallen through our vortex as we lie;
A happenstance unseen across our sky.
For all the while the linens we were keeping,
A momentary spark can live and die.



Lunar Eclipse

lunar eclipse
Photo by Johannes Plenio on


Lunar Eclipse

Last night, there was a blooded moon,
Eclipsed at perigee –
For once the clouds all stayed in bed,
And let her wander free.
She slipped into totality
At just passed half-past three,
She must have made a pretty sight,
But one I did not see…

I chanced awake at ten-past two,
And saw her dimming light,
But didn’t stay to catch the show
And soon bid her goodnight.
I woke again long after dawn
And knew I’d chosen right:
For all the views across the news
Make such a pretty sight !



We Choose to Go to the Moon & Do the Other Things

sky space moon astronomy
Photo by Pixabay on


We Choose to Go to the Moon & Do the Other Things

We went to the moon and we wondered in awe:
For now there was nothing, but nothing beyond us –
If we could go there and could see what we saw,
Then how could we come back to famine and war ?
Just think of the challenges still to explore,
The missions to finally bond us.
We stood on the moon and we finally shone,
We tested our nerve and we found we were equal –
Now climate and poverty prove a tough sequel.
But conquer we shall !, to learn from discoverings.
We went to the moon, now it’s time to move on –
It’s time to be doing the Other Things.


Out There

moon and stars
Photo by Min An on


Out There

Life, it shouldn’t be so rare;
I don’t mean Mars or Venus.
There isn’t much can flourish there –
Bacteria, perhaps, can bear,
But higher life is pretty spare;
Too harsh for such a genus.
Yet surely in the Milky Way,
How many planets must convey
A goldilocks for genes at play ?
They surely must have seen us.

Life, it shouldn’t be alone;
It seeks out other threads, where
On planets older than our own
They should have let themselves be known
Across the interstellar zone –
What wonders might have bred there ?
The distances, of course, are vast,
Yet still we should receive the blast
Of radio from light years’ past –
Yet all we get is dead air.