On the evening of February 19, 1852, a scientist at the New Haven station of the nascent telegraph witnessed something extraordinary: A blue line appeared upon the paper, which gradually grew darker and larger, until a flame of fire followed the pen, and burned through a dozen thicknesses of the pr
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A century before Emily Dickinson wrote that “to be a Flower is profound Responsibility,” Erasmus Darwin (December 12, 1731–18 April 18, 1802) — Charles’s grandfather and his great influence on evolutionary ideas — set out “to inlist Imagination under the banner of Science, and to lead
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To take the vaster perspective of time and space is always an act of resistance to seeing the present as islanded in time — the depiction menacing us from TV screens and news headlines.
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the poet Mary Oliver wrote in contemplating the artist’s task and the central commitment of the creative life, “are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.
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The Universe in Verse was born in 2017 as part celebration of the wonder of life and the splendor of reality, and part protest against the assault on science and nature — that is, on life and reality — in the era of “alternative facts” and vanishing environmental protections.
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In early September 1947, a year after she rewilded the landscape of literature with Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown (May 23, 1910–November 13, 1952) watched the love of her life fade to black.
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“A life of patient suffering… is a better poem in itself than we can any of us write,” the young poet Anne Reeve Aldrich wrote to Emily Dickinson shortly before her untimely death.
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“Matter delights in music, and became Bach,” Ronald Johnson wrote in his stunning 1980 prose poem about music and the mind. This may be why music so moves and rearranges and harmonizes us, why in it we become most fully ourselves — “atoms with consciousness,” axons with feeling.
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“What happened could have happened to anyone, but not everyone could have carried on,” Marcus Aurelius wrote in his Stoic strategy for turning suffering into strength.
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“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide,” Albert Camus wrote in one of the most provocative opening sentences in all of literature, unspooling into one of the most daring works of philosophy.
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