Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans' Day

Thanks to those veterans who have given so much of themselves in the service of our country. I came across this amazing book of poetry, Here, Bullet, written by Iraq War vet Brian Turner. As a science writer, I was particularly struck by this lovely poem. A note at the back of the book explains that the poem refers to Abu Ali al-Hasan ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham, a scientist from the turn of the first millenium who made advances in the fields of physics, among others. (For a longer review of Here, Bullet, visit Guys Lit Wire.)

Alhazen of Basra
by Brian Turner

If I could travel a thousand years back
to August 1004, to a small tent
where Alhazen has fallen asleep among books
about sunset, shadows, and light itself,
I wouldn't ask whether light travels in a straight line,
or what governs the laws of refraction, or how
he discovered the bridgework of analytical geometry;
I would ask about the light within us,
what shines in the mind's great repository
of dream, and whether he's studied the deep shadows
daylight brings, how light defines us.

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