Poems Written By Famous Physicists

Sep 2, 2020 2 comments
poems written by famous physicists poetry physics

Although they mostly employ mathematical language in order to describe nature...but from time to time, physicists cave in to poetry. In this post, you will read some of the best poems written by the most renowned physicists in the world.


Robert Oppenheimer

He was an American theoretical physicist who contributed to our understanding of atoms, black holes and quantum tunneling. He wrote the following poem describing his memories of New Mexico.

It was evening when we came to the river
With a low moon over the desert
That we had lost in the mountains, forgotten.
What with the cold and the sweating
And the ranges barring the sky.

And when we found it again...
In the dry hills down by the river,
Half withered, we had
The hot winds against us.

There were two palms by the landing;
The yuccas were flowering; there was
a light on the far shore, and tamarisks.
We waited a long time, in silence.

Then we heard the oars creaking
And afterwards, I remember,
The boatman called us.
We did not look back at the mountains.

poems written by famous physicists poetry physics

Oppenheimer's friend, British physicist Paul Dirac, who hated poetry, quipped, "In science, one tries to tell people, something that no one ever knew before, in such a way as to be understood by everyone. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite!"

Paul Dirac

Ironically, Dirac wrote the following poem; quite full of gloom!

Age is, of course, a fever chill
That every physicist must fear.
He's better dead than living still
When once he's past his 30th year.

poems written by famous physicists poetry physics

He was a Nobel Prize winning physicist and this poem, which is attributed to him, shows his dedication towards physics. Dirac was a complicated character; in fact, Einstein described him as an awful balance between genius and madness.

Albert Einstein

Einstein had a great reverence for Baruch Spinoza, who was a Dutch philosopher of Portuguese origin, best-known for his conceptions of the self and the universe.

How much do I love that noble man,
More than I could tell with words!
I fear though he'll remain alone
With a holy halo of his own...

This poem was written by Einstein in 1920 in the honor of Spinoza. According to Spinoza, "What many people call God, few call the Laws of Physics."

Galileo Galilei

He was an Italian astronomer who is known to have broken the foundations of Aristotelian physics. Galileo discovered the law of inertia and made pioneering contributions to astronomy.

poems written by famous physicists poetry physics

He wrote the following appreciation poem for mathematics; a free verse.

Nature is written in this grand book
Which stands continually open
Before our eyes
But cannot be understood
Without first learning
To comprehend the language
In which it is written.

Without which
It is impossible..
To even understand a word
Without which
One is just wandering
In a dark labyrinth.

According to Galileo, this was a language whose words were composed with triangles, circles and other shapes. Clearly, his intention was to say, that without math, it is impossible to understand natural phenomena.

Richard Feynman

He was an American Nobel Prize winning physicist who contributed to our understanding of the interaction between light and matter.

Out of the cradle
Onto dry land
Here it is standing:
Atoms with consciousness;
Matter with curiosity.
Stands at the sea,
Wonders at wondering: I,
A universe of atoms
An atom in the universe.

In this poem, Feynman has demonstrated the great extent of his intellect and imagination. It shows the evolution of life from the oceans to land-walking creatures. It also shows that on an astronomical scale, his existence is meaningless; but on this scale, in which he's in, he himself is the universe!

James Maxwell

He was a Scottish physicist who unified the phenomena of electricity, magnetism and optics into one single framework. His work is considered equivalent to that of Einstein's.

The world may be utterly crazy
And life may be labour in vain;
But I'd rather be silly than lazy,
And would not quit life for its pain.

This poem was written by him in 1858 in a book titled, Segreto per esser felice, meaning, Secret to be happy. Maxwell was a great lover of Scottish poetry and wrote many of his own.


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