the Judgment

April 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

I dreamed the judgment came to me by night
They stood around my bed, severe of mien
And asked one question, “What is enstatite?”

“It is an orthorhombic pyroxene,”
I said, and as I spoke I heard a jangle
Of planets crashing down the cosmic seas.

I added hastily: “Its cleavage angle
Is eighty-seven (more or less) degrees.
If it were fifty-six, not eighty seven

We should, quite clearly, have an amphibole.”
At this they swept me, singing up to heaven,
Where angels’ hands received my battered soul.

– R. P. Lister

During my search to discover the origin of “the Judgment”, I found myself at a crag in the internet where a mineralogist emailed me an explanation:

The subject is familiar to mineralogy students everywhere: the eureka moment when the distinction between two major but very similar-appearing mineral groups can be boiled down to the angle in which they break.

Angle and angel break in similar patterns as well, and the poem sways between the sublime and the mineral mundane until the two finally combine in geo-theo unison.

Here are rocks that look like food (taken from the Rock Food Table):

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