Science Poetry

Novel Vocabulary

“A mid-spring occasion of birthday;
The celebrant, one Charlotte Brontë.  
Her fiction direction 
From Haworth projection 
Yields Eyre literary as mainstay.”

The 21 April 2022 Twitter poem was a limerick that commemorated some common vocabulary terms seen in chemistry and literature.  

A mid-spring occasion of birthday; /
The celebrant, one Charlotte Brontë…  

This particular poem was written in honor of and posted on Charlotte Brontë’s birthday.  Brontë was a renowned English writer who lived from 21 April 1816 to 31 April 1855.  She and her sisters (Emily and Anne) authored several classic novels during their careers.     

“Her fiction direction /
From Haworth projection /
Yields Eyre literary as mainstay.”

The poem notes the overlap in language between a drawing convention used in chemistry and the name of a famous home from the history of British literature.  The Haworth projection is used to quickly communicate information about the three-dimensional structure of saccharides (sugar molecules); this is similar to the ways in which Newman projections and Fischer projections can efficiently share structural information. Different projections have different benefits for different types of molecules.  Haworth House was the name of the Brontë family’s parsonage.  

I remember the similarity in terms striking me when I encountered the chemical drawings for the first time, years ago, and it was fun to find a way to finally highlight that.  The suitability of “Haworth projection” as an appropriate descriptor for a book that originated in some way from the Brontë home (in addition to its chemically precise meaning!) has been with me for a while.  

Finishing up the last few lines, “fiction direction” is a wordy but reasonable rephrasing of the concept of a book’s central theme.  “Eyre literary” is a pun on “literary air” and, of course, a nod to the title of Jane Eyre, since the poem was posted for Charlotte Brontë’s birthday specifically.