Stripped Colors of an Earth”—A Reading of Science in Poetry

2015 Louisiana Studies Conference Presentation Abstract

“Stripped Colors of an Earth”—A Reading of Science in Poetry"

Presented by John P. Doucet, Nicholls State University

Yvor Winters wrote the sonnet “The Invaders” in the post-Hiroshima world that rose around him at Stanford University.  First collected in 1960, “The Invaders” comments on the drive of scientists who have “won out at last and laid us bare,” rendering all as victims of “the naked passion of the human mind” which “as a locomotive plunges through/distance that has no meaning and no bound” and has been “stripped of colors of an earth …lit with motion only of some inner rime.” The emphasis of Winters’ poetry and criticism on rejecting mysticism and accepting formalism, controlled association, and clarity, however, has more in common with how scientists work and communicate than he was likely willing to acknowledge during that period of time. 

In this presentation, Louisiana poet, playwright, and scientist John Doucet will ameliorate the idea of scientists “thundering some interminable sound …toward meaning that its changing cannot find” by demonstrating how science provides new knowledge (the inner rime) for understanding and preserving “our heritage of earth and air”—essentially returning the colors of earth stripped by observation and investigation. Not Winters’ “subatomic roar of Time on Time” but certainly infused with timely supra-atomic analogies and concepts, the presentation with provide readings and offer commentary on a selection of original poems and plays set in Louisiana and elsewhere written over the course of a career in molecular genetics.

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