What hope have we to know ourselves, when we Know not the least things, which for our use be. Why grass is green, or why our blood is red, Are mysteries which none have reach'd unto.
John Donne, "On the progress of the soul"How would John Donne react if he knew that his rhetorical questions about chlorophyll and hemoglobin, which he intended in a "when hell freezes over" sort of way, are actually now solved? Clearly, he believed that science and reason poison the soul; the take-home message from "On the progress of the soul" is that not only can't we know life's mysteries, but it isn't healthy to even try. For hundreds of years, poets have written about science. Yet according to poet Maurice Riordan and science writer Jon Turney, authors of A quark for Mister Mark, poets have traditionally stuck with two age-old themes: our place in...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?