Not Only Pascal’s Wager

white dices on checked wood
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Not Only Pascal’s Wager

If God is not, and I believe,
Then my mistake shall matter none to me;
And when I come this life to leave,
I matter none to void infinity.

If God there is, and I abstain,
Then my mistake shall matter great and well;
And when I quit this earthly plain,
I matter none to He who saves from Hell.

If God is not, or God there is,
Still our mistake, for taking up this bet;
So ere our lives are done, know this –
They matter much, they might be all we get.

 

 

Salient Thoughts

Ypres

 

Salient Thoughts

Passing through Ypres,
We paused for a moment to take in the Cloth Hall.
By the cathedral we parked,
And we wandered the Grote Markt,
Charmed and yet chilled
By the way they had carefully rebuilt it all.

The shops were all shut –
(We’d come on a Sunday, just wanted a look)
English words blared from their posters and flyers
So locals or ex-pats ?  We didn’t enquire.
Their windows were filled
With helmets and biscuits and rifles and books.

Then down to the Menin Gate –
Far too triumphant and proud of its names:
Look at how many I bear !
They all did their duty and lie who-knows-where.
Just look at our killed !
And dare you resist us, and dare you lay blame ?

Rank upon rank of surnames,
With first-names reduced to only initials.
People I found myself wishing
Had told their nations to carry on fishing –
But instead, they had fought.
And here were their names, to make it official.

The flags barely moved,
And a few of us found ourselves holding our breath,
And it all seemed so lonely and still
And so thankfully long since the kill,
And yet still overwrought –
A faded and motionless orgy of death.

Ah, hindsight you rogue !
But let us not hate the hard lessons you tell.
So maybe it’s time to finally suture,
Time now for Ypres to find a new future.
And here’s a thought:
Maybe let’s spell it as Ieper from here on as well.

Mortal Remains

burial cemetery countryside cross
Photo by Mikes Photos on Pexels.com

 

Mortal Remains

These tombstones are listed, these crypts are protected,
Preserving the love and the pride that erected
These grand mausoleums and gravesides historic,
Their statements and passions to questions rhetoric.
Yet time shall erode with its rain and its frost,
Till their dates are obscured and their epitaphs lost.
It weathers their angels and softens their urns,
As lichens enshroud and subsidence upturns,
And insects will burrow in mortar and crack,
And ivy will clamber and marble turn black.
Yet do not repair them, their tarnish amassing;
Such monuments solemn are records of passing.

 

 

Roofus

ancient architecture building church
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Roofus

How do churches stop the rain ?
And send the downpours down the drain ?
That’s pretty simple to explain –

The footing holds the buttress,
And the buttress holds the flyer,
And the flyer holds the springing,
And the springing takes the strain.
The springers hold the vault ribs,
And the vault ribs holds the kingpost,
And the kingpost holds the rafters –
Both the common and the main.
The rafters holds the purlins,
And the purlins holds the sheathing,
And the sheathing holds the shingles,
And the shingles stop the rain.

 

 

The History of an Industrial Revolution, Located in a Parallel Universe

The Iron Forge
The Iron Forge by Joseph Wright

 

The History of an Industrial Revolution, Located in a Parallel Universe

There was a time before the steam,
The world was truly manned:
Each ditch was dug and plough was drug
By animal or hand;
And all the light to see by came
From tallow or the sun.
So lives would trudge on just the same,
Each short and brutal run.
There was a time before the steam,
The only help was wind or stream;
So up we moved to brook or hill,
Forever lashed to nature’s will –
We’d tap the earth to drive our mill.
A little better, maybe – but we’d only just begun.

There was a time before the steam,
The world was short and slow.
Our only fuel was ox or mule,
Or when the wind might blow.
And all the heat in winter came
From hearths of wood or peat,
With forests lost to make a flame
And give a little heat.
There was a time before the steam,
Before the pitch-black golden seam,
When all the energy not hooved
Could not be bottled, bred or moved.
Our lives could only be improved
By pilgrimage to power on our thousand weary feet.

There was a time before the steam,
The world was harshly ranged;
The days were long, yet swiftly gone,
And nothing ever changed.
But then came coal – the good earth’s soul,
The black and frozen fire –
And finally we took control,
And built our chimneys higher.
There was a time before the steam,
But that was then – before the gleam
Of pistons, valves and proud machines
Whose vapour-thrust provides the means
For endless and precise routines:
To serve our ev’ry labour and to never miss or tire.

There was a time before the steam,
To which we dread return;
But once the coke is up in smoke,
Well, what then will we burn ?
We’ve still got wind and rivers, sure,
But those have local clout.
Their power cannot take a tour
To where there’s folk about.
Will there be times beyond the steam,
A flywheel to prolong the dream ?
If only we can tame the spark –
The lightning bolt, the static arc –
And store it, then release its bark !
Or else we face an Age of Dark, when all the lights go out.

 

 

The Voyage of the Novum Organum

frontispiece
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.

 

 

No Sinjun

who

 

No Sinjun

Sir John St John the Sixth esquire,
Is strictly iambic and strictly a Saint.
He won’t stand for slurring his old money surname:
His Saint-hood is sacred – so ‘Sinjun’ he ain’t !

Sìr Jòhn Sàìnt Jòhn (to use sprung rhythm)
Was knighthed for service to country and queen.
It isn’t a parvenu baronet title
That’s passed-down with silver and eyes of grey-green.

Sir John St John is a John at the double,
Whose handle is firing both barrels to boot.
The hyphen’s still present, though these days it’s silent –
The fam’ly tree’s old, but it’s still bearing fruit.

Sir John St John is a doctor, also:
Dr Sir John the surgeon, no less.
He once sojourned on a journeyman’s journal
In old St John’s, with its permanent ’s.

Sir John St John has a inborn condition
That makes him assume that we jolly well care.
His symptoms assisted his self-diagnosis:
The syndrome of Sinjun Sinclair.

Sir John St John, (like his father, Sir John),
Insists as the firstborn, his name gets full worth:
He claims both his Johns by the right of tradition,
And claims he’s a Saint by the right of his birth.