Thursday 21 May 2009

Is it a Clock?

By Shana Worthen. Runner-up in the History of Science Songs Competition!

Tune - Clementine

[Would work nicely accompanied by ticking and punctuating bell rings and gongs.]

In a sunbeam, from a gnomon,
was the shadow of a dial
promptly noting, from the day's dawn,
every hour, Roman style.

Oh, escapements, oh, escapements,
oh escapements make the clock!
What's a clock with no escapement?
It's a timepiece, not a clock.

Ground-up egg shells, scrubbed-up sand, and,
marble dust cleaned up with wine:
in a sandglass, falling as planned,
intervals of measures fine.

Water-clocks were dripped by many
from old Babylon and on.
By their hours, four and twenty,
monks awoke for Matins' song.

Verge escapements, oscillators,
pendula, and balance springs:
space and time mapped by Mercators
and clockmakers with their rings.

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