Thursday, February 10, 2011

To an Oil Droplet

by Daniel Berke

The oil drops, wee points of light,
Like distant suns, in splendor bright,
Fall slowly through the air.
Like autumn leaves upon the breeze
They whirl, and with measur'd ease,
Descend beneath my stare.

Like snowflakes borne on winter's gale,
On drafts unseen, the droplets sail
Till from my sight they pass;
In constellations animate,
The droplets churn, each one alit,
An orb of golden glass.

A radiant shimm'ring symphony,
of stars, a very galaxy,
Before my eyes doth sway;
And just like leaves, they slowly fall,
Down to the earth, like objects all,
And gently fade away.

And then, O thing most wonderful!
When impulses electrical,
Are to the drops applied:
They slow, they stop, reverse their course,
As though compelled by unseen force,
Back up their shaft to ride.

And when the current's off once more
Their paths again turn towards the floor,
A myriad dancing lights.
Nothing now impedes their motion,
Save the air, which like an ocean,
Slows their headlong flights.

You have been reading a poetic description of the author's encounter with the famous Millikan oil drop experiment, in iambic tetrameter. With catalexis.


  1. Hooray for tetrameter! It is sadly underappreciated.
    That was a rather nice poetic description.

  2. Yes, it's fun to write in iambic tetrameter. I didn't know what it was until after I'd written the poem, I just worked with what came naturally.


Think I said something interesting or insightful? Let me know what you thought! Or even just drop in and say "hi" once in a while - I always enjoy reading comments.