It being Darwin day
Here’s a little something from the great man’s great-great-granddaughter, Ruth Padel, who has published a new collection about her famous relative called Darwin: A Life in Poems. For Arminta Wallace’s piece on Padel’s new work, click here. In the meantime, here’s a poem from the collection that was reprinted in the New Scientist, which points up the distance between Darwin and his wife Emma because of the latter’s fears that her husbands view of creation would lead to his eternal damnation.
I Think I shall Dislike it Very Much
(from Chapter Five: The coat of fur (1851-1882))
He’s glad they’re out there, young scientists,
giving the world his argument. It’s out, it’s done -
and he’s spent nine years on plants.
Now The Descent of Man and Selection
in Relation to Sex. He’s got to state, at last,
his vision of 1838, before they married.
‘I shall be well abused.’ She studies the first draft.
‘I think it will be very interesting, but I
shall dislike it very much. It is again putting God
even farther off.’ He thinks of an orang-utang
in a pink frock and frills, looking in his eyes,
being generous. Opening his palm
to gift her treasure to him. Many moments in this marriage
have been saved – by both of them – with laughs.
(Editor’s note: In 1868 Darwin published The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, and started the book on specifically human origins)