By Iggy McGovern

The Eyes of Isaac Newton

In his fourth collection of poems, poet & physicist Iggy McGovern lets art and science intermingle in poems that range from the domestic to the ekphrastic, from the celebratory to the elaboratory. With trademark formality he runs his eye over an array of themes, some familiar, some less so, allowing for both conversation and collision: An epistolary paean to fellow Ulsterman Seamus Heaney borrows a Latin quotation from a letter by Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton to  William Wordsworth; the early history of the quantum revolution is mapped out in clerihew form, and Schrödinger’s cat takes up the position of tour guide in the famous box. The poet’s failure to write “a real love poem” and a childhood memory of near-accidental loss of eyesight are both, somehow, science’s fault. And through it all the eyes have it, narrowing, winking, weeping and (given the right conditions) dilating into Black Holes.

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In his fourth collection of poems, poet & physicist Iggy McGovern lets art and science intermingle in poems that range from the domestic to the ekphrastic, from the celebratory to the elaboratory. With trademark formality he runs his eye over an array of themes, some familiar, some less so, allowing for both conversation and collision: An epistolary paean to fellow Ulsterman Seamus Heaney borrows a Latin quotation from a letter by Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton to William Wordsworth; the early history of the quantum revolution is mapped out in clerihew form, and Schrödinger’s cat takes up the position of tour guide in the famous box. The poet’s failure to write “a real love poem” and a childhood memory of near-accidental loss of eyesight are both, somehow, science’s fault. And through it all the eyes have it, narrowing, winking, weeping and (given the right conditions) dilating into Black Holes.

“Unaffectedly honest, instructive and entertaining.”
— Eamon Grennan, The Irish Times


The Eyes of Isaac Newton

Let us salute the oddest of them all,
who used a bodkin to investigate
how pressure might affect his own eyeball
yet came down on the right of the debate
that sight is ‘intromittist’ – light received
and not that light from their captains’ piercing eyes
caused soldiers to shield theirs, as was believed
by the ancient Greeks who would philosophize
upon the origins of that salute –
and that this light was made up of corpuscles
(a flyball that Einstein would one day catch),
then played the private eye in hot pursuit
of Chaloner; their last of many tussles
would see the coiner’s bulging-eyed dispatch.

 

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Product Detail

  • ISBN: : 9781910251270
  • Size: : 140 x 216 mm
  • Pages: : 76
  • Published: : November 2017

About The Author

Author

IGGY MCGOVERN was born in 1948 in Coleraine. Since 1979 he has lived in Dublin, where he lectured in Physics at Trinity College until retirement in 2013. He has published four collections of poetry: The King of Suburbia (Dedalus Press, 2005), Safe House (Dedalus Press, 2010), A Mystic Dream of 4: A sonnet sequence based on the life of William Rowan Hamilton (Quaternia Press, 2013) and The Eyes of Isaac Newton (Dedalus Press, 2017). He edited the anthology 20|12: Twenty Irish Poets Respond to Science in Twelve Lines (Dedalus Press/Quaternia Press, 2012), marking the European Science Open Forum in Dublin. McGovern’s awards include The Hennessy Award for Poetry, The Glen Dimplex New Writers Award for Poetry and The Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary. He has read his poetry at international festivals in Europe, North America and Australia/New Zealand. McGovern describes his poetry as “characterised by form & rhyme and humour; it also reflects my professional career as a physicist. I am interested in exploring the common ground between science and poetry". In the latter regard he has contributed to the ELINAS (Literature and Natural Science) project of Erlangen University and to the Bridges (Maths-Art) conference series.  Eamon Grennan, reviewing Safe House for The Irish Times, writes “Light, rarely lightweight, McGovern’s voice is very much his own … unaffectedly honest, instructive and entertaining”. PERSONAL STATEMENT "My poetry is characterised by form & rhyme and humour; it also reflects my professional career as a physicist. I am interested in exploring the common ground between Science and Literature." REVIEW EXCERPT “Light, rarely lightweight, McGovern’s voice is very much his own … unaffectedly honest, instructive and entertaining” — Eamon Grennan, The Irish Times, 2011