Simple Complexities: The Sonnet

Continuing where we left off, taking the molecule and delving deeper to the core. I’ve just finished research on the intriguing development of the first nuclear reaction, from its brain child in the first Solvay conferences, to its materialization (or more appropriately, de-materialization) in the form of the trinity test. Side note that I’ve never liked how science, news, or pop culture have utilized religious nomenclature to apply to secular things. It has always bothered me.

Sophomore: But hey hypocrite, you were comparing molecules to angels and the Trinity in the last post! And you just stole “nomenclature” from the pagan Romans.
Me: Step off son, we put the Holy in Holy Roman Empire. Just listen to my boy Athanasius… *hands-off mic* (24 min rap solo by Athanasius Kircher.) “We Put the Holy in Your Holiday” single, in stores Dec 1st.
Wow, I was going to have this post be all somber and dark, quick in quick out, but it’s morphed for sure.

Snapping back to reality; that’s how I feel about the name of the trinity test. But the thing that intrigued me was Oppenheimer’s inspiration for naming the test “trinity” . For even he, as he was experimenting with the powers of the universe, could discern from what source the powers came. That he was witnessing it. Understanding it. Materializing it.

Would not God, who let the hand of Thomas touch His hands and side
let those probe the depths of the heavens, read the rays of the skies
just so that they might know and believe in Him?

Oppenheimer’s test codename was sourced from John Donne’s poem. (Yes, the same John Donne gave Hemingway the line “For whom the bell tolls”.) The sonnet below:

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.

Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

The sonnet is so complex in its inter-phrase rhythm, patterned rhyme, and symbolic nouns. It by its constituent parts can be subject to utter academic and scholarly scrutiny and made into endless typologies. Why? Because the crafting of a sonnet is an art. The art of mapping the complexity of rhyme and rhythm with the symbolic nouns and adjectives.

But probe the depths even deeper. See what inspired him to choose Donne’s poem in the first place. Remorse. Repentance. The need to be built up again. Acknowledging the power of God is beyond our power, and earthly powers because it is He that wrought them all.

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