Rutherford's Division of the Atom

Original Text: 
S. P. Zitner, The Asparagus Feast (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1999): 90.
2that career of particles
3disguised as person, place, and thing.
4Whatever we walk on is a kind of water.
5It is as though the Material, too,
6had an Unconscious, the rudiments
7hidden everywhere in the open,
8coaxed out also by guileless questions
9with estranging answers.
10Faint arc of scintillations,
11so alien to the world as seen,
12and yet that world entirely:
13Rutherford, his small brass box,
14the Cavendish Laboratory,
15Cambridge, Europe, and all else.
16Cold revelation! Yet it is folly
17to wish it more creaturely,
18more our own. Given who we are
19and were, even before such knowledge
20lent us the eyes and then the hands of gods,
21is it a providence that the germ of things
22is free of purpose and remorse.


1] Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937), British chemist and physicist who originated the model of the atom that had negatively-charged electrons around a positively-charged nucleus. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
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