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Wednesday, 6 February 2013

A COSMIC LABYRINTH - Parts 1 - 6


This is the first six parts of what will eventually be a composite poem of twelve parts. It tries to reflect the complexity of living in an extraordinarily fast-changing technologically-driven world. To me, and I suspect to many others, the pace of change is so fast that we feel almost constantly off-balance: barely have we become familiar with one technology than it has been replaced by something faster, more sophisticated and often more puzzling. I sometimes wonder how this pace affects those who are professionally engaged in the broad sweep of scientific research and production: I think I would be quite fearful, although that might just be because of my profound ignorance of so many challenging and exciting fields! With that in mind, I acknowledge an arrogance in me in even trying to reflect this momentum of our age: so please accept it as a lay person’s struggle to express our science-shaped environment.

At the end of each ‘rest’ in a pavilion or haven will be a short stanza about having to hurry on, which again is perhaps an inexorable part of our living condition in the more-developed world: a sense that will, perhaps, soon assail large parts of the less-developed world too.

This icon has been devised to indicate the pattern of what is to follow. Each letter represents on of the 'Havens' of discovery that can be entered and as one passes or leaves a haven, the nature of the path changes, reflecting the major changes in life-patterns that many people experience. The background is an imaginary star-field reminding us that it is from stardust we came and to stardust we will ultimately go.





A Cosmic Labyrinth (Parts 1 - 6)

Setting Out (Part 1)
To weave a way through the puzzling imbalance of matter,
and strive for oasis at this labyrinth’s core,
Is a pilgrimage through tortured terrain
that shifts, closes in and even shatters,
needing charts to be ever redrawn,
of the backbreaking hills and slough-ridden plains..

We, constantly caught ‘twixt innovation,
unsettled by the newest, challenging trend
feel pressed to trudge through shifting sands,
tread rock-strewn paths, and baffling highways,
with never a sign of a welcoming end.
Driv’n to plough through tracts of complex problems,
yearning for shelter from persistently pressing demands.

Ah yes! But step aside from time to time;
pause in a ‘pavilion’; let interest be energized, renewed.
These are scattered about this cosmic labyrinth.
though most explorers can tarry at but few!       


The River (Part 2)

What change, the path now drifts
as a deep, slow river
and I am rafted in the current’s flow.
The banks coruscate with blue and purple flora.
Here, more a refuge
than many to which I might, on this itinerary, go.
As I meander on midst shameful plastic dross galore,
I reach at last the mysterious ocean’s waste-strewn shore.

The Cabin of Deep Oceanography
A plunge of unfathomable depth
and discomforting rapidity;
darkness and dense suspensions denying sight.
Scarce energy is spent
to probe for unknown wonders,
strange eyeless creatures, disorienting contours,
uncanny, boiling vents
veiled utterly from e’en the faintest glimpse of light.
And midst the bleak, sub-zero, barren blackness
is life unfathomable to our reason’s bounds
where energy derives from startling sources
miles, miles beneath the surface where the ocean pounds


The Path of the Lava-flow (Part 3)

Hideously now, the path’s a lava flow,

terrifying, unconstrained,

I cannot perceive any way to go safely,

but help is nigh at hand.



I am handed lightweight suit and mask

of fabrics I have never touched nor seen,

assured by the one who guides me

I will be safe from heat and gas and steam.

Impossible to my mind

yet as my guide steps out

I can see she’s safe, so I warily tread behind.

Another wonder on these unfolding paths

as technology reveals the indestructibility

of the cloth of a wondrous dream.



The Haven of Climatology

With trepidation, I prepare to settle
In this refuge with the world held on its heart,
For I know there are those who hate supporters
Of the watchful ones who see it as their part
To monitor phenomena from many sciences
That demonstrate the ways the world’s ill-served
By vested interests in defoliation,
In mineral rape, too few would see deterred:
In suffocation of its ecosystems
For gain, for gain, for gain, for gain, for gain
Then crying ‘Good is bad’ to mask the traces
Of the willfulness engendering so much pain.

But here I meet with wise, and careful experts
With evidence that climate-change is human-fuelled,
I’ll willingly engage within the haven
And build beyond, on wisdom there distilled,
Acknowledging that we, this age, are stewards
Of this amazing planet, so must share
With others of prophetic, lucid vision
And strength of mind and heart to deeply care
Enough to challenge monoliths with narrow focus,
an unremitting single-minded aim
That in the use of earth’s abundant treasure,
‘just they and their stakeholders stand to gain.

I know I must learn, I cannot celebrate.
Though I must go, I’ll point others on the way.


The Path of the Wormhole (Part 4)

Uncannily, the path becomes a ‘wormhole;’

stars, planets, gassy vortices press in on every side.

my speed defies all chance of estimation,

it is an unknown, unfettered roller-coaster ride.

The horizon bends and shifts with each precipitate turning

the walls are fluid as the Milky Way;

there is no knowing my ultimate destination.

I yearn increasingly to know

Where the next haven might lay



The Haven of Astrophysics

Herein, an aerial-bombardment of information;
space and earthbound telescopes
continuously disgorge
new findings, posing questions by the million:
turbulent outpourings from an unreachable cosmic forge,
a super-massive black hole,
a dust-filled bleak amorphous haze,
a hitherto inconceivable energy burst,
a back-moving planet, too close to its own sun’s blaze.
How can these streams of novel information
be tamed, be turned to valuable account?
Increasingly through voluntary, off-site workers:
enthusiastic amateurs
who, skilfully guided,
can help such unmanageable abundance, surmount


A Country Path (Part 5)

I am delighted now to brief, bestride

a broad grassed country trail.

Wild flowers abound, some forehead high

others so minute, they almost fail

to be observed as I tread keenly on:

revelling in a balmy summer sun

which draws out butterflies, brief here, then gone;

provokes aromas in a hedgerow, gunned

by gorse, aiming its seeds far beyond

the confines of the bank on which it grows,
to claim new territory for its kin,
in hope that no-one either ploughs or sows
in that new colony: a hope so slim,
for to humans, land-yielding oft is woe.

All about me, beauty prevails.
As I imbibe this flood of glory,
I wonder at its provenance.
Evolution makes so much sense
Yet seemingly cannot advance
the totality of this magnificent story.

The Hub of Communications Technologies
Relentlessness appears to rule in this roost,
words, tunes, images set to fly
invisibly and with increasing rapidity
from A, B, C, to G, H, I
and well beyond.
Potentially the whole world echoing
vibrating to the sound of massive viral drum
that demands, titillates,
or simply provokes curiosity
and maybe wastes time –
or renders one, upon an instant dumb.
Planned Time Out, perhaps a lesson to be learned
in this particular school,
to be a restorative from the tempestuous wave-forms
of the global messaging pool.

I long to learn, I long to rest,
but I am beckoned on, I cannot stay.

The Herb Strewn Path (Part 6)
 I rejoin the path where I have seeming lost my way in time
(that tyrant that pursues, presses and never retreats from his inexorable line).
So, unbelievably, I am in herb-strewn passage of yester-year;
for never would one tread such path today.
Rather we would have synthetic infusions
sold at vast premiums to sublimate our angst away!
But I, delighted, step on rosemary, bay and thyme
entrancing me with every tread
and wonder what these surging attars rouse within my head:
this warming glow,
this restfulness.
Ah! The neuroscientist , at least in part, will know.
Ponder it not now. For here I’m envious of earlier kin,
lives most harsh compared to mine,
who, on occasion would unclose a door, step in,
be drenched by balm of herbs
upon a floor – sublime.
or should I truer say, divine?

The Haven of Neuroscience.
Enter here with caution
for it is the province of the brain:
astounding abilities are here being explored
within that mass of cerebral tissues and circuits,
which can impressively put in train
connections, memories, inspirations, surprises
and thankfully, with prosaic regularity
the mundane;
the actions and reactions of the day-by-day.

The firing of neurons, the activation of synapses
and each distinctive part
of this complex organ are wonders for our contemplation,
challenges to understand how we respond to tradition,
to novelty, to learning and to art.
Here is all processed and we can each be sure
no-one else will respond to a set of  circumstances
Exactly as we will.
We will, in some way stand apart
from others and determine our own resolutions
to every second of the day; to the grips and demands
of the institutions
that help define us:
and occasionally to react to revolutions!

‘Tis here our speech is triggered, our senses and our range of motions
and step by step understandings are being built
which more clearly define such questions
as the seat of our emotions.
How is it that deep within our being lies
A sense of the transcendant
which some would wish to reduce to basic electronic pulses.
But others will perhaps
rejoice to know our wondrous brain can find space for the resplendent,
the awesome, the loving, the wondrous and the beautiful
and see in that a further journey
drawing us towards the numinous.

I long to learn, I long to rest,
but I am beckoned on, I cannot stay.
And amidst all this perplexity, there is obviously a huge amount to celebrate as scientific discovery helps us to understand more and more about our wonderful earth and our staggering cosmos. I like to give thanks for this and have framed that thanksgiving in A Thanksgiving for the Wonders of Science



Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe

Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe
It is currently thought that the Universe has at least 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars! Hence the use of the word ‘scintilla’ for a mere ten thousand billion.

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)
Cross and Particle Accelerator. The words of 'A Prayer for Understanding' can be viewed by clicking on this image

Nebula (Embroidery)

Nebula (Embroidery)
Nebula (Embroidery) to accompany the poem 'Invitation' which can be found by clicking on the image.

Orange Galaxy

Orange Galaxy
'Orange Galaxy' posted to accompany 'Bounded and Boundless'. Go to the poem by clicking on the image.

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower
Cosmic Icon 7 - Summerflower Nebula (Acrylic)

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth
Cosmic Ikon 8: Moth Nebula(imagined-acrylic) The Gold field of deep space is intended to convey the Lordship of Christ over the whole of the Cosmos

Surprise garden rose (Photo)

Surprise garden rose (Photo)
This beautiful head of roses in our garden, which are giving off a delightful perfume in the morning sun, seems a fitting picture to link to the sonnet 'Evolution and Beauty'. Let the picture take you there. It is a surprise because it is growing high on a bush of otherwise pure yellow roses: amazing!

Cross and Vortex

Cross and Vortex
'Cross and Vortex' to accompany 'Stars and Planets Sing Your Glory'. Click on the image to go to the poem/hymn.

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)
Gaseous Cosmic Threads: Mixed media - acrylics and painted threads

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)
Warm Umbrian Hills: Click image to take you to the poem St Francis' Sky

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)
'Cosmic Labyrinth' - This icon is a symbol of the path through the near reaches of the Cosmos with its 'Havens' where current advances in science (2012/13) are celebrated. By clicking on the picture you will be taken to the latest version of the poem of the same name.

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)
Time, perhaps to consider a restorative break before the approach of Advent/ Christmas. Let this image take you to 'On Drawing Apart'.

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)
On the South shore of Iona is a bay which shows the industrial scarring of a beautiful place. Read of it by clicking on the picture

Butterfly Nebula (CGI)

Butterfly Nebula (CGI)
The Imaginary Butterfly Nebula . Anything like this would be a real Curiosity! The image will link you to the reflection titled 'Curiosity' which is actually a celebration of the achievement of landing the Mars Rover of that name

Light of the World amidst stars (CGI)

Light of the World amidst stars (CGI)
'Light of the world' posted to accompany 'To Light'. Find the poem by clicking on the image.

Iona from Fionnphort (Watercolour)

Iona from Fionnphort (Watercolour)
Iona from Fionnphort. At this point of the Isle of Mull, the end of a pilgrimage or trip to Iona is in sight. Click on this picture to take you to the poem 'IONA - The Pilgrim Way'

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)
Cross and simple prayer rope: make one like this to use as an aid to using ‘The Jesus Prayer'