Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Herschel's Telescope

The Georgian Star
by Michael d. Lemonick

Herschels telescope "was understandably touted as one of the wonders of the modern world."
- Michael Lemonick, The Georgian Star

I sometimes think that Shakespeare's sonnets contain as much wisdom about humanity as his plays or the novels of Proust. I keep finding connections with other reading or thinking in which I am engaged and that gives me pause to reflect and enjoy yet another of Shakespeare's fine sonnets. I recently read a bit of the biography of William and Caroline Herschel, The Georgian Star, by Michael D. Lemonick. And then I encountered, again, Shakespeare's fourteenth sonnet, below, and was taken with the resonance. The discoveries of Herschel about real planets, stars, and galaxies are matched and mirrored by Shakespeare's imagination.


Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck;
And yet methinks I have astronomy,
But not to tell of good or evil luck,
Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons' quality;
Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,
Pointing to each his thunder, rain and wind,
Or say with princes if it shall go well,
By oft predict that I in heaven find:
But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,
And, constant stars, in them I read such art
As truth and beauty shall together thrive,
If from thyself to store thou wouldst convert;
Or else of thee this I prognosticate:
Thy end is truth's and beauty's doom and date.
- William Shakespeare

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