Darwin: A Life in Poems
An intimate and highly original interpretation of the life and work of Charles Darwin, by his great great grand-daughter, acclaimed poet, Ruth Padel.
Charles Darwin lost his mother at the age of eight, repressed all memory of her, and poured his passion into solitary walks, collecting newts and shooting. His five year voyage on the Beagle, in his twenties, changed his life. Afterwards, in London in 1838, he began publishing his findings and working privately on groundbreaking theories about the development of animal species, including human beings. He had a very happy marriage with his cousin Emma, and his emotions were no longer frozen, but both were painfully aware of the gulf between her devout Christian faith and his increasing religious doubt. The death of three of their ten children accentuated this gulf. For him, death and extinction were part of the survival of the fittest, for her, it was a prelude to an afterlife.
In this new sequence of poems, using multiple viewpoints, Ruth Padel follows not only the development of the great scientist’s professional thought, and the drama of the discovery of evolution, but also imagines the fluctuating emotions within Darwin, the private man and tender father. It is a moving and powerful tribute to her famous forbear.
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