Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Those Who Hear Not the Music"

This poem came out of the October 7, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] brushwolf  and Shirley Barrette.  It has been sponsored by Shirley Barrette.  It also fills the "history" square in my 9-29-14 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo Fest.

WARNING: This poem contains true stories of genius abuse and neglect.  If that's sensitive territory for you, think carefully about whether you want to read onward.


"Those Who Hear Not the Music"


Hanaoka Seishū researched herbs
and performed the first surgery for
breast cancer under anaesthesia,
but what people remember is
C W Long's trial of ether in 1842.

Sofia Kovalevskaya was a mathematician,
a nihilist, and a revolutionary who
made "unusual" electrical machines --
called crazy for rebelling against men's rules.

Nikola Tesla spoke with birds,
bottled lightning and changed the world;
but he was a visionary, not a businessman,
so the credit went to Thomas Edison.

Alan Turing worked with codes,
both secret and computational.
He was the father of artificial intelligence --
let it never be said that homosexual men
cannot father small miracles -- but
he was thought mad and a pervert,
so he took himself out of this world.

Richard Feynman painted his van
with diagrams of a particle that
hadn't been proven to exist when
he was driving around its portrait
in the original Mystery Machine.
He made his accomplishments, but
was always considered eccentric.

It is not that science makes people insane
or that craziness leads to creativity,
but rather another iteration of an old rule:

Those who dance are thought mad
by those who hear not the music.

* * *

Notes:

Hanaoka Seishū (October 23, 1760 – November 21, 1835) was a famous doctor.

Sofia Kovalevskaya (15 January [O.S. 3 January] 1850 – 10 February [O.S. 29 January] 1891) was a revolutionary and a scientist.

Nikola Tesla (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) invented many things.

Alan Turing (23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) sparked artificial intelligence.

Richard Feynman (May 11, 1918 – February 15, 1988) was a physicist.  He drove an interesting van and people considered him eccentric.  The Mystery Machine was a whimsically painted van in the cartoon Scooby-Doo.

The title comes from a famous quote.

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fishbowl, history, poem, poetry, reading, science, weblit, writing
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