The Great Peace
It is a fiction to divide the arts and sciences, for both are two sides of the same coin, and both must work to be conduits of enlightenment to humankind. Dedicated to Nadya.
I stand upon the calm and sunny edge
of ocean, where continent of sea meets
its complement in land, the waters lightly
lapping upon the sandy gravel. The little
waves are pushed by light, delightful breeze
cooling and refreshing in the sun, playing
about my face and hair with cheerful chase.
But I feel this one breath as if speak with
double force, one slower and more constant,
the second faster and more variant, and as
they whip about me in sweet dance, I stand
as if mast and hull and spread my mind as sail
upon the sea far beyond the reach of eye.
There both are magnified to dread or
powerful wind, and they seem to toss
the tiny skiff, as if one in jest and other
in direction of far-off land, as if in contest
of command over this particle of life. One
is history and humanity, shaped by past,
known, unknown, yet fixed in stone,
one course and one pilot preferring
through journey. The second is science
and sphere of nature, so changing and
untamed as if violent, demanding five
attendants by vastness of fickleness.
Thus one pushes port and second sucks
starboard, as they race in endless circle,
the slower lost by swifter long ago.
Skipper stays in desperate calm, tense
with coming clash of force unstoppable
and object immovable – a dreadful squall
to wipe him and ship into the ocean sea.
Crew and captain surrender to divine
lieutenants, hoping that obedient humility
to what seems chance with interest invoke
upon these awesome breaths. Strange,
as if they mind in spirit had, the faster
caught the slower far ahead, trodding
past where the swifter would walk
corrected, and they made peace
with each other, seeing true trek
of first and swiftness of the second.
Thus mixing two, they wheeled back
to ship abandoned, enticed by frail
and almost false concord, as man
of letters and man of science hid
in fear and hostility by danger
tempered. And coming with light
step, one to push the raffee, one
to guide the keel, as if two hands
together touched the helm with ease,
the men forgot their tiny excellence
in ignorance of this new science and art,
which traced so far and daring loxodrome
upon the unknown globe of blue fields.
Both sat as scribe and judge, as mate
alongside wheel: all had right to sacred
quarterdeck as pupils of Lord’s angel,
sent at last to exchange the talents
hoarded by greed and selfish comfort
that to darkness threw the Earth so long
ago commanded to be crawled upon and
wondered. Thus again reduced to student
they matched and conquered themselves,
scientist-artist, artist-scientist: gentlemen all.