How Science Is Similar To Poetry

One look at science and poetry, and you wouldn’t think there’d be any connection to the two fields of pursuit whatsoever. Science after all, is based on logical reasoning and strives to understand more of what we don’t know via methods that are all factual. It means wanting nothing but the truth. Poetry on the other hand, is an entirely different medium and is a type of literature that’s based on the interplay between words and rhythm. Most oftentimes using rhyme and meter, it usually presents ideas that are either too abstract or complex through imagery and words. Because of this, the two fields couldn’t be more farther than each other.

However, Harvard University professor and host of  Poetry in America Elisa New thinks otherwise, since she believes both science and poetry have more in common than what is usually recognized. In fact, she’s been actively seeking out scientists to read and speak about poetry.

“The love affair between poetry and science is a really long one . I think about those poets of the 19th century whose delight in poetry was often nurtured by their ramblings in their local pastures and in their studies in what they would have called natural history,” she said.

More in common than you think

According to her, it’s not that the pursuits are directly related, just that some of its disciplines are very similar. This includes patience, observation and curiosity.

Another common thread between the two is problem-solving. According to New, modern poems are more or less equations that require a reader to look more in-depth to understand what the author is trying to present.

“[It] is more like looking at a problem and trying to inspect the pieces before one, figuring out how they fit together,” New said. In fact, New even recommends to approach poetry like science, in the sense of figuring out what each piece of data or verse means, since it will make the medium more accessible and easier to get into.

There are also scientists, according to her, that encountered scientific explanations in peotry that technical literature simply isn’t capable of doing so, adding a whole new dimension to the pursuit and format.

For those interested in blending both topics, she recommends reading the works of Marianne Moore, A.R. Ammons and Emily Dickinson.

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