Echoes from Northamptonshire
And here is our own, women in science, offering
from Poems and Fancies (1653)
Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1623 -1673)
The weight of Atomes
If Atomes are as small, as small can bee,
They must in quantity of Matter all agree:
And if consisting Matter of the same (be right,)
Then every Atome must weigh just alike.
Thus Quantity, Quality and Weight, all
Together meets in every Atome small.
Almost four centuries ago, Margaret Cavendish was as outspoken as any modern feminist. ‘Why should we Desire to be Masculine,’ she demanded, ‘since our Own Sex and Condition is far the Better?’ Poet, philosopher and experimenter, this extraordinary woman shocked the scientific world by demanding equality and pouring scorn on fashionable theories. Married to one of the richest men in England, she took London’s Royal Society by storm and wrote many books, including The Blazing World, an early science fiction novel. To learn more about this exceptional aristocrat, go to our Margaret Cavendish page on the Minerva Scientifica Website.
There are many women writing poetry about science today. The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation commissioned a trilogy of poetry and science anthologies which include many women poets:- Dark Matter – Poems of Space, co-edited by physicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Maurice Riordan includes the work of Antjie Krog and Emily Dickinson; Wild Reckoning which commemorates conservatiionist Rachel Carson’s important book Silent Spring; and Signs and Humours about poetry and medicine, edited by Lavinia Greenlaw who herself writes brilliant work about science. There are many others you can investigate including Ruth Padel, Jo Shapcott, and Gillian Clarke.
Our Northamptonshire Poet is a young Lacemaker Eliza Westbury (1808 – 1828) from Hackleton.
She wrote 150 poems and hymns in the last 2 years of her life and one of them, a tribute to her mother, received it’s premiere in this Festival on May 12th in a setting for acapella voices by Frances M Lynch. Our electric voice theatre singers recorded their parts individually in their homes on May 10th and Herbie Clarke produced the results at Birnam Studios in London. Listen by clicking the play button below or go to her page on Minerva Scientifica and read her full story while you listen – you can download the text there.
This is very exciting for electric voice theatre as it is our first ever Lockdown Ensemble Recording!