Ode to Gonyaulax polyedra

Poetry doesn't usually come to mind when talking about science, but Maria Popova of Brain Pickings came across what is considered the first poem ever published in a strictly scientific journal.

It's from Smith College professor Mary E. Harrington, who wrote the poem about the bioluminescent algae Gonyaulax polyedra:

If the lazy dinoflagellate
should lay abed
refuse to photosynthesize,
realize:
the clock will not slow

but it will grow fait
weaker
weaker

barely whispering at the end
”rise”
”rise”

to little effect.
The recalcitrant Gonyaulax
arms crossed
snorts
“No longer will
they call my life
(my life!)
‘just hands’.
I am sticking to the sea bed!”

Link (Photo: J. Woodland Hastings Lab)

 

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