Wednesday, November 5, 2008

hidden poems between the pages of my medical books

i was reading one of my medical handbooks, the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine, when surprisingly, i came across this poem :
The Microscope knows not of this nor the Telescope: they alter,
The ratio of the Spectators Organs but leave Objects untouch'd,
For every space larger than a red globule of Mans blood,
Is visionary, and it is created by the Hammer of Los;
And every space smaller than a Globule of Mans blood opens,
Into eternity of which this vegetable Earth is but a shadow.
The red Globule is the unwearied Sun by Los created
To measure Time and Space to mortal Men...

by William Blake in his poem Milton, section 29, lines 17-24...
NB: Los, the globe of fire, is a symbol used by Blake to encompass the exultant energy of creation, the poetic imagination, and the burning brightness where all is noble images were pounded of eternity and compounded in the most compressed verse and art we have.

Can you believe that? a poem in one of my medical books!! (@page 309) and such beautiful poem! why didn't i noticed it before? when i started reciting and sharing my new discovery with my friends at the library, they thought i was crazy or something.. but anyway, i thought that it was a really nice poem...

This poem, it makes us appreciate the invention of modern investigation and imaging, without the need for invasive procedures. How we can know the function of the liver or kidney function by just taking some blood (LFT, RP)... How we can see cerebral ischemia or hemorrhage via a CT brain, without needing to crack open and view the brain with the naked eye.. by looking at the blood, one can diagnose a disease, manage a patient, and even give a prognosis... (thus measuring time and space to mortal men).... - well, at least that was how i interpreted the poem... every poem can be interpreted differently by different people...

Anyway, i wanted to find the original poem. And i did! So, here it is, let me share it with you...

Milton: The Sky is an Immortal Tent Built by the Sons of Los
by William Blake

The sky is an immortal tent built by the Sons of Los:
And every space that a man views around his dwelling-place
Standing on his own roof or in his garden on a mount
Of twenty-five cubits in height, such space is his universe:
And on its verge the sun rises and sets, the clouds bow
To meet the flat earth and the sea in such an order'd space:
The starry heavens reach no further, but here bend and set
On all sides, and the two Poles turn on their valves of gold:
And if he moves his dwelling-place, his heavens also move
Where'er he goes, and all his neighbourhood bewail his loss.
Such are the spaces called Earth and such its dimension.
As to that false appearance which appears to the reasoner
As of a globe rolling through voidness, it is a delusion of Ulro.
The microscope knows not of this nor the telescope: they alter
The ratio of the spectator's organs, but leave objects untouch'd.
For every space larger than a red globule of Man's blood
Is visionary, and is created by the Hammer of Los;
And every space smaller than a globule of Man's blood opens
Into Eternity of which this vegetable Earth is but a shadow.
The red globule is the unwearied sun by Los created
To measure time and space to mortal men every morning

This image from the Song of Los, William Blake, is a picture of a naked haematologist working alone, hammering a red cell into shape. Supposedly this was how they worked back then, alone, trying to figure out a disease. (i couldn't explain the naked part though). Nowadays, people worked as a team, with the physician, haematologist, geneticist, specialist, lab staff, staff nurses, etc to manage a patient.
'Every space larger than a red globule of man's blood is visionary, and it is created by the Hammer of Los'.

p/s: maybe i seriously need a break from reading... poems in between pages? gosh, what was i thinking? what's with all the emo?


  1. yea.. u urself said that the procedure is not invasive and can know some many thing from just so little blood.. but when somebody is sick, she runs away from it like mad.. *wink*

  2. eh.. forgot d.. shinyin.. remember to change my link on ur blogroll to :P

  3. >joyce, seriously, the poem was in page 309.. suddenly out of the blue! how surprising.... funny thing was, noone else notices that poem...

    >bingwui, i am speechless... noone is running away from anything kay....

    p/s: btw, i tried to change the blogroll, but dunno why it refuse to change links.. it kept going back to the blogspot!! i guess my blog liked your old blog or sth... haha! i also don't understand..

  4. Oh, you really like poems and all that huh? I know alot about you through your blog, then again, it is your blog and I'm suppose to know you more through your blog, huh? Ok, I'm lost. All those twisted words. Eh, I love poems and all too. I love Shakespears work just as well :)

  5. >brenda, yeah, i guess sometimes i revealed more of myself in my blog rather than in real life.. you know, like how sometimes people wear masks in real life.. they keep the masks on because it gives them a sense of security, giving them confidence, hmm.. i'm not implying that i am fake or anything, in real life.. it's just that i don't really like to talk or share about myself, in real life... i don't quite know how to explain, now i'm just babbling...

    it's a bit scary though, if some day i do meet up with online friends.. it's like you can't predict now much they know about you.. and it makes you feel like a piece of glass.. so transparent, they could just read through you.. specially readers who just reads and never leave a word or comment, and suddenly, out of the blue, they asked about something you blogged in the past.. haha! scary weh...

    anyways, about poetry, YES, i LOVED poetry, like a lot! *high fives!* the 2 things that i appreciate, well besides life, love and nature, are poetry and music.. i think it fills the soul... i liked the hidden meanings between the layer and layer of words.. and one do not have to be like really smart to understand a poem, as everyone can have their own interpretation! i liked Shakespeare and Robert Frost.. =)

  6. I understand medic students overseas have to do encourage critical thinking and also emtional development.

  7. yes, in countries like the UK, they have to take an art degree before taking medicine.. it doesn't have to be literature, it can be arts, computer, or even finance.. thus, supposedly, they would be more mature when they become doctors.. the long study years, is frightening though...

    i missed English lessons a lot!! i really do... especially those English literature classes back in high school.. i guess the English teachers in KGV made English such a beautiful and interesting subject! Mrs Lim, Mr Frederick, Ms Ng, Pn Chu.. those were the days... i wonder why we couldn't take English Literature as a subject in med school.. at least it's much more fun than 'Managing a library' or 'Setting up an student organisation'.. sigh....

  8. harrr... den ma very bad... :(

    hahaha u know wat.. make me a special link laa..! hahahahahaha kidding kidding.. :P

    too bad... :(

  9. >peanut, you want a special link? can, no problem! how much you wanna pay for that advertisement box? =P

  10. Hehee, nice poems... Kinda lost when you mention about the Los. Deep language, but its really nice to read.
    How the clouds bow before the sun...

  11. yeah, i think it's rather deep too.. but deep is good... and about los, well, Los is the globe of fire. Blake uses this symbol (Los) to encompass the exultant energy of creation, the poetic imagination, and the burning brightness where all is noble images were pounded of eternity and compounded in the most compressed verse and art we have. Los is like the highest, the most ultimate one, the topmost. or well, something like that..


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of love

Today, i heard a story which was not a story of falling...
of living in the dark end of winter turmoil..
instead, it was a love story..
of a couple who did not live happily ever after...
but they live, loving each other..