Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Poetry in Engineering

The Mid-sems are upon us.So it's time I took out the books,dusted the thick dust cover and turn to the first page of the chapter.A wonderful surprise!

The introduction to the chapters in one book on Ceramics and to one chapter in the Physical metallurgy book start out with poems.What a departure from the regular you're-gonna-cry-on-this introductions!

Here are some excerpts-

Hymn of Breaking Strain

The careful text books measure
(Let all who build beware!)
The load, the shock, the pressure
Material can bear.
So, when the buckled girder
Lets down the grinding span,
The blame of loss, or murder,
Is laid upon the man.
Not on the Stuff -- the Man!

This one's by Kipling.Complete verse can be found here.
A very good one too.I look at this and then I look at my attempt.Then it becomes clear what it means to be a poetic genius.In case you didn't figure that out,it's Kipling I'm referring to.

Now for the ones in the ceramics book.These are by John Updike and all of them are excerpts from his huge poem called Dance of the Solids taken from Midpoint and other poems.

All things are Atoms:Earth and Water,Air and Fire,all
Democritus foretold.Swiss Paracelsus,in alchemic lair
Saw sulfur,salt and mercury unfold Amid Millennial
hopes of faking Gold.Lavoisier dethroned
Phlogiston;then molecules analysis made bold
Forays into the gases:Hydrogen
Stood naked in the dazzled light of Learned Men.

another one-

The Solid State,however,kept its grains
of microstructure coarsely veiled until
X-ray diffraction pierced the Crystal Planes
That roofed the giddy Dance,the taut Quadrille
Where Silicon and Carbon Atoms will
Link Valencies,four-figured,hand in hand
With common Ions and Rare Earths to fill
The lattices of Matter,Glass or Sand
With tiny Excitations,quantitatively grand.

I could not find the poems on the web so I typed the excerpts myself.I liked them that much.Here's another one,and very true indeed-

Textbooks and Heaven only are ideal
Solidity is an imperfect state
Within the cracked and dislocated Real
Nonstoichiometric crystals dominate

In case you're wondering what rhyme scheme and punctuations are these;wait till you have a course in literature.You'll get to know about the Spensarian rhymes,Miltonian and Shakespaeran sonnets and the caesura,enjambments et al.Good luck.

Here's the one that started it all,by Robert Browning-

All that is,at all
Lasts ever,past recall,
Earth changes.
But thy soul and God stand pure,
Time's wheel runs back or stops:
Potter and clay endure.

Nice way to start a book on ceramics.

It would be so very wonderful if the chapters itself were written in verse.Here's a job for me,if and when I don't do anything else.I won't be any good,but I'll try.

It's all great.Now I have to get past the introductions.Into real world.

3 comments:

Handa said...

poetry and engg. dont go together man... they just dont... look at me..

Nikhil said...

Rock is our generation's poetry man.
So keep on rocking in the free world.

Phoenix said...

Well, it's definitely a welcome change from equations, partial derivatives, flow diagrams and more equations.

That's one reason I liked staring at Resnick-Halliday during my school days(never really studied it though). It had nic-ish quotes and verse thrown around.