Poetry and science

In The Age of Wonder, subtitled “How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science”, Richard Holmes quotes John Bonnycastle, from the preface of the 1811 edition of his book Introduction to Astronomy in Letters to his Pupil, for the following apologia for the use of poetry in a popular exposition of science:

The frequent allusions to the Poets, and the various quotations interspersed throughout the work, were intended as an agreeable relief to minds accustomed to the regular deduction of facts, by mathematical reasoning … Poetical descriptions, though they may not be strictly conformable to the rigid principles of the Science they are meant to elucidate, generally leave a stronger impression on the mind, and are far more captivating than simple unadorned language.

I don’t entirely agree: what do you think?

About Peter Cameron

I count all the things that need to be counted.
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