Descartes

[Another poem from my ‘I Love Sophie’ suite. The European 17th century Age of Reason, and Descartes of notorious cogito ergo sum fame as an apparent way out of total doubt. A mathematician (invented analytical geometry) and divided the world dualistically into ‘thinking things’ (res cogitans) and ‘extended things’ (res extensa). Believed the soul resided in the pineal gland. Queen Christine of Sweden asked him to tutor her. This is an improved version of the one published in my first book The Post-Man Letters in 2010. The portrait of Descartes is by Frans Hals, 1648].

Descartes

Had a rough time in the womb,
mother carked it and so did I
a bit as the doctor averted his eye
and walked away in disgust.

The wet nurse held me like a vice
so I lived as it were a weakly
strap of a thinking thing that lay
in bed lazily extended till noon

submerged in the sweet geometry
of thought that sought my mother
like an asymptote. The axis gone
our quadrants never met. Since then

I’ve preferred my eggs bloodied
by foetuses nipped in the bud.
Their dead lives lend me strength
to wander Europe, perve on crazed

crazed wars of Protestant & Pope
warmly saddled on a distant horse
watching coolly how cannonballs
miss their mark for want of Reason

and how far swords can penetrate
any extensive mass of flesh.
Philosophy is mathematics after all
especially swaddled by a cosy fire

snowbound in a German inn where
I can do nothing but think out
the evidence of my great dream, as
a servant re-fuels the constant stove.

I’ve walked up to the edge of total
doubt, peered over it and found God
again Who does not delude us
because He does not delude us.

Therefore I am again without a doubt
and God-like too. Branded an atheist
because I proved God using Reason
plus the power of my pineal soul

alone, now, like Him, with our iron
machines, our minds hard clouds
of numbers that compute clear
meanings in clockwork things

that tick their way through womb-
silent rooms. Thus did I teach
Queen Christine, that Swedish bitch
who woke me at the freeze of five,

served Protestant unfertilized eggs,
and so was the motherly death of me.

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~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on June 28, 2018.

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