Mathematics of Light

by David Morley

The wavelengths of daylight
register on bright equipment:
flutterings across a spectrum
from infra-red to ultraviolet.
Discover me at an ice age,
at a midnight of colour,
in a place where rainbows
unbind themselves completely.

But you stand in the noon.
Shadows are inventing themselves

over your quickening retina;
the day moves on to shade
when spires are like pen-strokes
in the heat haze… It’s

like Newton’s gold trances
as he skimmed slates on the sea,
like Einstein’s chatter over tea,
borealis, wispy cigarettes. It’s 
down to the human to live it, take
it in. Keep my sunlight warm for me.

*reproduced by kind permission of Carcanet

Biographical Details

David Morley writes essays, criticism and reviews for The Guardian,Poetry Review, and international journals. A trained ecologist, his poetry has appeared in international literary journals, anthologies, as well as The London Review of BooksThe Independent and The Guardian. His work has been translated into several languages, notably Chinese, and won many writing awards. Poems have been widely broadcast on radio as well as television. He directs the Warwick Writing Programme at The University of Warwick where he develops new practices in the teaching of creative and scientific writing, for which he was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy in 2006. He has published eight collections of poetry, the last two with Carcanet Press: Scientific Papers and The Invisble Kings. Cambridge University Press will be publishing his The Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing in 2007.

This month’s poem is taken from David Morley’s Scientific Papers(Manchester: Carcanet: 2002). He writes: 'the practice of writing science and poetry are, for me, a single discussion of perception carried out with the same eye and ear, and in the same laboratory of language.' David Morley read Zoology at the University of Bristol. He subsequently gained a fellowship from the Freshwater Biological Association in Windermere and pursued research on acid rain. He then travelled in Eastern Europe and reported on the revolutions of 1989. He founded, with Jeremy Treglown, the Writing Programme in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick. He is now Director of the Programme and teaches and develops new courses in creative and scientific writing.The Invisible Kings will be published by Carcanet in 2007.