An 8-Year-Old Girl’s Poetic Tribute to Newton
By Maria Popova
“Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; it is the impassioned expression which is in the countenance of all Science,” William Wordsworth wrote in his 1798 meditation on the shared heart of poetry and science. How pleased he would have been to know that, more than two centuries later, a little girl would be so moved by the spirit of science embodied by a great scientist who had lived more than three centuries before her, that she would eulogize him in a poem.
In the summer of 2012, the admissions office at the famed Trinity College at the University of Cambridge — alma mater to such luminaries as Lord Byron, James Clerk Maxwell, Niels Bohr, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Bertrand Russell — received a most unusual letter from an eight-year-old girl named Ozzadeh Tajalli, a student at a nearby primary school, containing a poem she had written about Trinity’s most famous alumnus: Isaac Newton (December 25, 1642–March 20, 1727).
I can’t decide what is most touching about Ozzadeh’s tribute — that a little girl should choose poetry as a medium of truth, that physics and mathematics should speak so beguilingly to art, or that a single person can touch the world so monumentally as to be eulogize in children’s poems centuries later.
by Ozzadeh Tajalli
Isaac Newton is his name,
he worked hard and intelligence came.
He started by making a mechanical kite,
later he discovered the colours of light.
Isaac was born in 1642,
it was a hard life but he came through.
When he was born he lost his dad,
his mother remarried but that made him sad.
In Woolsthorp village he went to school,
in Grantham High School he was a jewel.
He read a book called the Mysteries of Nature and Art,
which Isaac used to model a professional cart.
He went to Cambridge University,
the college he went to is called Trinity.
The laws of gravity is what he discovered,
for all those years he had suffered.
Newton built a telescope and did lots of calculations,
his gravity laws described stars and planets’ relations.
Hundred years later, new theories arrived which are great,
but Newtonian ideas have never gone out of date.
His inspiration came from the Mysteries of Nature and Art,
he worked hard all his life with might and heart.
Isaac Newton died when he was eighty-four,
his ideas travel to develop more.
Ozzadeh’s passion for language would only continue to grow. Four years after she wrote the Newton poem, she went on to compete against and beat England’s best French linguists. Perhaps her passion for science would take a similar trajectory, so that one day in the twenty-fifth century, a schoolchild would eulogize her in a poem.
For another adventure at the intersection of language and science, see the fascinating story behind Newton’s famous “standing on the shoulders of giants” metaphor, then revisit Adrienne Rich’s poetic tribute to Marie Curie.
Published April 10, 2017