Sept 1962

The Orphic Voice: Poetry and Natural History

Author Affiliations

By Elizabeth Sewell. Price, $7.50. Pp. 460. Yale Univesity Press, New Haven, Conn., 1960.

Arch Intern Med. 1962;110(3):407-408. doi:10.1001/archinte.1962.03620210131040

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This interesting book by a noted British pholosopher, author, and critic is highly recommended to those particularly concerned with the biological basis of scientific thought. It is a study of the biological function of poetry.

Language, the greatest natural gift, shapes our thinking and attitudes. It is, as it were, a secretion of the mind which has as one of its sometimes troublesome features, homeostatic control. It had been considered that there was a language of poetry and a language of science, and that they had little relation to each other. In 1820 Goethe said that poetry and science seemed to be in absolute opposition to each other. Yet the division is not as simple as it looks. When broadly considered (with low-power lens rather than the high-power), such seeming antitheses as science and poetry, analysis and synthesis, mathematics and words, are not antitheses, but rather structurally similar activities.


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