In his landmark book, Science and Poetry (1926), I. A. Richards argues that poetry depends upon “The Magical View” of the Universe, premised upon belief in Spirits, Inspiration, and the Efficacy of Ritual. Richards, however, asserts that the scientific outlook is incompatible with “the Magical View” and therefore its cultural ascendance may mean the end of poetry. Many poets, including Blake, Keats, Whitman and Poe, have identified science as a desiccating threat to poetic vision. Even the skeptic Hardy surprisingly leaves science behind to draw the Magical View into his poetry. Yet, in the poetry of American Jared Carter we see an astonishing reimagining of science, one that brings the Magical View into science by reimagining key scientific concepts (the Big Bang and Cosmic Inflation) metaphorically. Such a reimagining transforms science making it not a threat to poetry, but rather an imaginative resource for its creation. A careful analysis of Carter’s sonnet “Dark Matter” reveals how Carter effects this transformation in a way that sustains the Magical View by connecting with religious faith. Carter’s hopeful metaphoric perspective on science contrasts sharply with that of Albert Camus, who interprets science as metaphor only to identify it as an epistemological cul-de-sac in an absurd universe. Carter’s hopeful metaphoric revisioning of science, on the other hand, harmonizes quite well with the way scientists such as Isaac Newton, Owen Gingerich, Alister McGrath, and Freeman Dyson have harmonized science with the transcendent. In an increasingly scientific world, Carter’s metaphoric perspective offers a promising future for poetry.


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pp. 9-26
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