He said: Give me a place to stand and I will move the earth.” Some commentators think he also mentioned “a lever long enough” but this seems not to be the case, though he was speaking in connection with the use of levers.

I don’t know how Archimedes pictured the earth that he would be able to move, but I have trouble imagining his lever working on the round and ever-in-motion world we live on.  If it had curved tines like a fork, perhaps, the lever could catch it.  A giant shovel?  And when he lifted it up, where would he put it?

On a Roll

Ancients admired the
untiring sun. Unaware
this solid earth rolls ever
eastward, they charted
elaborate ellipses to
explain shifts caused
by the planet’s tilt.

Circling days spiral
down, spiral up, Europe
chasing Asia, which gets
to morning first every time.

Westward movement,
once search for Asia’s
back door, becomes
drive “into the sunset,”
where civilization has
gone to die.  And still
we praise the dawn.

Of course, Asia only gets to morning first because of the international date line, which was set by those folks in Greenwich, England.  If Japan had set the international clock, would the dateline be in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean instead of the Pacific?  One more thought to ponder.

I find even more to ponder in the question of “a place to stand.”  The question of where we stand has been addressed by many scholars in this post-modern era.  The general impression is that no two people stand in the same place; this challenges the possibility of real communication.

Fortunately it’s in our nature to keep trying to communicate. One function of poetry is to connect people across the different places on which we stand.  Another is to explore the metaphors and assumptions that determine the place where each of us stands.  Do any of us have solid ground under our feet?  Physically, we have shifting tectonic plates beneath us and space all around an ever-rolling globe.  It’s up to each of us to find a spiritual view that fits―for us―with that reality.

“’On A Roll” was first published in Lunarosity, a fine ezine which is now defunct.

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