Tuesday Poem: “Night’s Magic” by Helen Heath

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.

This Tuesday, fellow poet and Tuesday Poem editor Helen Heath and I are doing a poem swap. Helen blogs at helenheath.com. She lives in the seaside village of Paekākāriki, on New Zealand’s Kapiti Coast. She completed an MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University in 2009. Her poetry has been published in many journals in New Zealand and Australia. Most recently she’s had a chap-book of poems published by Seraph Press called Watching for Smoke (2009). Currently she is working on a full-length book of poems. “Night’s Magic” originally appeared in Sport 38.

You can check out other Tuesday Poems at the Tuesday Poem Blog.

4 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem: “Night’s Magic” by Helen Heath

  1. Oo, I love the characterization of Newton as magician. The poem creates such a studied sense of balance and symmetry. Thanks so much for posting Helen’s poetry, Sarah, it always surprises me!

  2. Great poem. Did he really stick a bodkin into his eye socket? I’d be a very cowardly and uncommitted scientist if that was a requirement. It’s rumoured Newton was autistic, but then post-historical revisionist diagnosis is all the rage at the moment. They have Einstein and any number of other “geniuses” pegged as autistic or Aspergers.

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