Nautilus

Does Science Diminish Wonder or Augment It?

In its pursuit of explaining things that previously seemed beyond words, does reason stifle the imagination? Can rationalism coexist with a reverence for mystery?

Two great poems with opposing views, composed over 200 years apart—“Lamia” by John Keats and “Water” by Philip Larkin—address these vexed questions through the entangled concepts of water and light.

John Keats (left); Philip Larkin (right)Painting by William Hilton the Younger, housed in the National Portrait Gallery, London; photo by Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The romantic poet John Keats, one of the most sensuous masters of the English language, proclaimed his objection to science when

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