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“Adapt a Midsummer quotation…
Airy nothing gains name, habitation;  
Poet’s pen thus aligning
With a STEM start inclining: 
Things unknown framed through shared observation.”

I am backtracking a bit to the 23 April 2022 Twitter limerick, which I inadvertently overlooked in a busy spring semester!  This poem was posted in honor of William Shakespeare’s birthday and highlights a famous passage from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  

“Adapt a Midsummer quotation… /
Airy nothing gains name, habitation…”  

The first line of the limerick cites the specific play of interest; the second line highlights the pertinent passage of interest, from Act Five of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling, / Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven; / And as imagination bodies forth / The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen / Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing / A local habitation and a name.”

“Poet’s pen thus aligning /
With a STEM start inclining: / 
Things unknown framed through shared observation.”

I heard an insightful discussion of the Shakespeare passage during a wonderful online colloquium on science, imagination, and poetry in 2021, via the University of York’s Festival of Ideas.  Several of the points raised stayed with me until the following April, when I again was completing the National Poetry Writing Month routine on April 23, specifically.  (This date has been a particularly fun one to work towards, throughout my four years of attempting NaPoWriMo.)

The general theme is highlighted in the poem’s final line: that both scientists and poets employ new language and metaphor with which to describe the previously unseen world, sharing their observations of the “things unknown” of heaven and earth, in Shakespeare’s writing. 

This has been a fascinating idea to explore in some of my general education courses, examining creativity in both the sciences and the humanities.  Careful observation and detailed description are crucial in multiple fields, and those interdisciplinary overlaps continue to be favorite themes in this space.