Science – Pursuit of Poesy Friday (No.5)

Hallo? Is that pursuit of poesy I see peeping its head around the corner? It is, it is! Come in, come in and take off that snowy cloak, we’ve missed you. There is no accompanying ‘Scribbled Poetry‘ post this week as I’m stuck on the dreaded page 30 of ‘Ode less Travelled’ and the muse has temporarily departed, ’tis not dead and shall return, but for the moment it rests sleeping where I cannot find it (Sock Draw? Behind the Fridge? Who knows).

Carrying on the theme from my last post, this Pursuit of Poesy features some Early Modern poetry concerning science and the Royal Society.


The Royal Society have commissioned some poetry to appear on the tube to celebrate the anniversary, so lets start with a quick dash of William Blake in all his glory:


Auguries of Innocence

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour


Alas, the early days of the Society were lionised by slighter lesser lights in poesy’s firmament:


In Praise of the choice company of Philosophers and Witts who meet Wednesdays weekly at Gresham College


If to be rich and to be learn’d

Be every nation’s chiefest glory

How much are Englishmen concern’d,

Gresham to celebrate in story,

Who built th’ Exchange t’enrich the Citty,

And Colledge founded for the Witty.



Our Marchants on th’ Exchange doe plott,

T’increase the kingdom’s wealth by trade.

At Gresham Colledge a learned knott,

Unparralell designes have layed

To make themselves a Corporation,

And know all things by Demonstration.



Thy Colledge, Gresham,shall hereafter

Be the whole world’s university;

Oxford and Cambridge are our laughter

Their learnings is but pedantry.

Theise non Collegiates doe assure us

Aristotle’s an Ass to Epicurus.



To the Danish agent late was showne

That where no eaire is ther’s noe breath.

A glass this secret did make knowne,

Where in a catt was putt to death

Out of the glass the air being screw’d,

Pus dyed and never so much as mew’d.

(An Early Satirical Poem on the Royal Society Author(s): F. Sherwood Taylor Source: Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Oct., 1947), pp. 37-46 Published by: The Royal Society Stable URL:


Still, if you can’t enjoy a poem that includes the asphyxiation of a cat then life has become a grey and sullied thing.



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