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.

 

 

Attacat

signal box
Yeovil Pen Mill Cat & Signal Box by Tim Jones

 

Attacat

There is a cat who watches trains
And makes his home in signal boxes,
Lives beneath the weathered gables,
Catches rats who chew the cables.
Grey, he is, with smoky grains
That fleck his coat the way of foxes,
’Cept the tramlines down his back
Which earn his name of Clickerclack.
They shine out silver, brow to rump
They even bear the marks for sleepers;
Branded thus, his fate assured
His working for the Railways Board.
So where a plague of rodents clump
Within the homes of signal-keepers –
Unannounced by midnight freight
Comes Clickerclack to extirpate.
He bites, he claws, he chews in half
And shreds them into vermicelli –
Drives them out and leaves his scent
To fright them off resettlement.
And when his work is done, the staff
Will feed him fish and rub his belly.
Then it’s off to boxes new
Aboard the 07:22.

 

 

My First Imperial Adventure

pole

 

My First Imperial Adventure

As a child, I loved to pore
Upon an atlas like a book.
The early chapters laid out Europe,
Where I knew it’s ev’ry nook.
Later on came Africa or Asia,
I forget which first.
The other next, then North, then South America
Would be traversed.
Oceania bringing up the rear,
And scattered islands next,
With local names italicised beside
The faithful English text.
That was the story’s climax, now the coda –
Now the final pair of plates –
The Arctic, then the Ant, in round tableaux,
The Baring and Magellan Straits.

Antarctica, to my surprise,
Had place-name labels scattered round –
The Ross Ice Shelf and Ellsworth Mountains,
Kemp Land, and McMurdo Sound.
Such British names !  The Arctic, though, was foreign –
Though I’d love to think
How Queen Victoria might send
The Royal Navy out to turn it pink.
Take Greenland, with its Anglo-Saxon name –
From Cape Farewell down in the South,
On through Discov’ry Bay to Upper Tooley,
And out East there’s Scoresby Mouth.
The Viceroy has his Residence in Goodhope,
With the inevitable railway lines –
Heading South to Hope St Julian,
Through Greenvale and the Squarehill mines.

And heading North on the Great Green Line,
With a branch and boat-train out to Sugar Top,
And via Lower Streamouth aerodrome,
To Foxborough – which once was the final stop,
Until the junction to Jacob’s Harbour,
(Ferries to Goodhaven from the pleasure pier),
Then the final push to Springfield Isle,
On viaducts of steel that we’d engineer.
Of course, in time the Esquimaux would learn
The ways of cricket and the bowler hat,
And in later years, there’s some would settle down
In Blighty, in a council flat
In Ashford, Accrington and Aberdeen,
To drive the buses and newspaper stands,
Opening churches, opening restaurants,
Marrying the local girls and forming bands.

I know, I know, so many problems
Unthought-out in the fantasy of a kid.
Just as well it never happened –
And yet…on a parallel Earth, it probably did.

 

 

You Bet Your Life

ball casino chance gamble
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

You Bet Your Life

Blaise Pascal once placed a Bet,
And for a Stake he risked his Soul:
“If of Gods there’s Nothing yet,
Then all our Faith can’t fill the Hole;
But then, since no God will Notice,
For no God then Is at all,
So our Prayers unto Abyss
Have done no Harm nor broke no Law.

But, should I now choose Desisting,
Claiming Heavens are Unmanned;
And, should now our Lord be lis’ning,
So shall He declare me Damned.
Therefore, weighing Odds and Chances,
Losses made and Gains received,
Wager wise where Luck enhances:
’Tis far Safer we Believed.”

Roll up !  Roll up !  The Tote is open,
Honest Blaise the Bookie always gives the Smartest Odds.
And ev’ry Sharp and Rookie can apply
His Patent Foolproof System to the Big Game in the Sky.
Poker-Face Pascal knows the Score,
He’s Croupier to the Heavenly Draw;
He’s got the Inside Track on Hoping,
He’s the Turf Accountant to the Gods,

Alas, Blaise, your God is not
The Only Game to play in Town,
A thousand other Evens Lots
Can yet be Laid when eyes are Down.
Such Longshots aren’t worth a Flutter,
Spin the Wheel and watch the Ball,
And pray it Lands within your Gutter;
Better not to bet at All.

So, whichever Gods are Winners,
Rank us Luckless all the same:
As Heretics and Bankrupt Sinners –
Even those not in the Game.
And if I Bust, I’m Damned if they
Shall claim the only Stake I’ve got.
But Stick or Twist, collect or Pay,
Let’s ante-up the Mortal Pot.

Roll up !  Roll up !  The Gods are waiting
Three Prayers for a Fiver, and the Fate Tombolas roll !
Now ev’ry Saint and Skiver gets to play
With Aces high and Jokers wild, and Tabs till Judgment Day.
Brokerman Blaisey knows the bid,
With Afterlife Shares just seven-a-quid:
He has the Dope and Gen and Rating,
He’s the Underwriter to the Soul.

 

 

Aves Rupulica

bird birds usa raven
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Aves Rupulica

We all know what will happen
If these ravens quit the Tower;
Strange to think these scavengers
Should hold such royal power –
To keep the crown from toppleing,
They’re crippled in one wing,
To fawn and clown for punters,
(All still peasants of the king.)

But you should be flying, Raven,
You should have flown,
For what cares a raven for propping-up thrones ?
Be mightier, Raven, than magpie or rook –
For the higher you fly, so the smaller we look.

We all know what will happen
If these ravens quit the Tower –
So much like us, they’re savaged
Just to keep the nobs in power.
They’re victim of Victorians,
They’re prisoners to lore –
If only they could bring them down,
And goad them “Nevermore !”

For you should be soaring, Raven,
You should be gone,
For what cares a raven for owners of swans ?
Be mighty, oh Raven, and help us stand tall –
For the higher you fly, so the further they fall.

 

The whole myth only started in Victorian times, and to this day these magnificaent birds are denied their natural instinct to fly for the sake of tourist pounds.

A Pile of Babbage

Difference Engine
The Difference Engine at the Science Museum

 

A Pile of Babbage

You built a Diff’rence Engine
Just to see if it would work,
Then locked it in a cabinet
And let it snooze and shirk.
In all of its magnificence,
It’s still in cog and joint.
You say it makes no difference;
I say, that’s just my point !