Nature Blog Network Future Earth: Ruth Padel

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Ruth Padel

Ruth Padel has been elected as Oxford University's Professor of Poetry (emerging as the fittest candidate in a trial of life typical of Oxbridge intrigues, perfected over 800 years of Don-dom). Darwin's great great grandaughter has also recently published "Darwin - a life in poems" to critical acclaim by the Guardian, from whom it can be purchased. Professor Padel has pledged to bring poetry and science closer together and use her profile to help protect the environment.

Here's an example of her work - from "The Soho Leopard", published by Chatto & Windus, London, 2004:

The Forest, The Corrupt Official and a Bowl of Penis Soup

How can I paint Winter Landscape with Temples
and Travellers, or Five-Colour Parakeet

on Blossoming Apricot Tree?

The oracle boxes are empty

and the Minister with a Brief for Charming Explanation
has signed a licence (to the army) for the forest to be cut,

ordered satin linings to his red kimono
and is drinking with the General

in what he says is the best restaurant in town,
attended by two fifteen-year old girls:

handpicked, translucent brown jade.
Black tree stumps cool on the mountain,

sawmills slide out planks a hundred an hour
and white ash blooms over the river

while the courtier treats the General
to tiger-penis soup, five hundred linu a bowl.

I'll paint the bare burnt mamillated plain,
Flame of the Forest in its white and scarlet,

jack fruits and jacaranda, the stag in the sky
and the naming of stars, the three definitions of twilight

in Yunnan province where white-handed gibbons
used to sing their love duets.

I'll paint the truth of illusion, a glossary
of atmospheric optics,

and Guanyin, Guardian of Compassion;
I'll pay particular attention to her smile.

Update 25 May - Padel resigns (shame).

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