Tuesday Poem: Night's Magic - Helen Heath

Monday, 26th April, 2010

Night’s Magic

Sir Isaac Newton (1643 –1727)

"Newton was not the first of the age of reason: he was the last of the magicians."

– John Maynard Keynes.




When Isaac closes his eyes

he is hanging, arms outstretched

only faith keeps him

from falling – a magic trick.

In his left hand is the Book of Revelations

in the right, the Book of Nature,

written in geometry.


He opens his eyes to take note

of God’s will in action. Observations

must be interpreted –

bodies in motion, fruit from the tree.



Reclusive, he experiments upon himself,

slides a bodkin into his eye socket

between eyeball and bone

until he sees severall white darke

& coloured circles.


Sibyls and Daemons

are still close enough

for him to hear their voices.

The sun rises so slowly it’s too hard

to pick the moment of first light

or the last of the night’s magic.



Helen Heath 2009


Read this poem and more in Sport 38 in shops from 1 May 2010.

For more Tuesday Poems go to the Tuesday Poem blog.


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I enjoyed this poem a lot, and I find that whole transition-from-alchemy-to-science era interesting. (John Crowley has written some really interesting books about this period in his "Aegypt" sequence - it's worth checking out.) Congratulations once again on your <i>Sport</i> success!

<p>Thanks Tim!</p>

Love the poem, Helen. Have you ever read Evellyn Fox Keller's book Reflections on Gender and Science? I think that you'd like it. Look forward to seeing you in Sport.

<p>Thanks Harvey, that book sounds good I'll look it up.</p>

What lovely images! I'm looking forward to the new Sport.

<p>Thanks Helen!</p>