Laser Majesty and Chewing Gum

While browsing through a book of collected poems by James Merrill, I found this from a poem entitled Eight Bits.

1 / Laser Majesty

Light show at the Planetarium.
Schlock music. Seven colors put through drum
Majorette paces. “We saw God tonight,”
Breathes Wendy. Yes, and He was chewing gum.

Oh, I smiled and laughed in delight, and then I chose a postcard randomly.

Detail of the polished surface of an Italian table top (c. 1800), decorated with different geological specimens. Croft Castle, Herefordshire.
©NTPL/John Hammond


We only think we can improve on the majesty of nature.

And an extra note about the table top pictured here. The Italians developed this type of inlay in the 16th century and called it pietra dura which means “hard stone.” There are some pictures online of beautiful objects made this way, and a short article at Wikipedia. I wasn’t unfortunately able to find a photograph showing the whole of the table at Croft Castle. This one with all the lovely marbles looks more like a sample table than other types of pietra dura that show pictorial scenes.



2 thoughts on “Laser Majesty and Chewing Gum

  1. Ooh–cool. That quote is funny. The gum part is really random…

    I love those lasered rocks. Wow. We’ve been into stones and gems lately. My daughter has those cheesy ‘grow your own crystals’ kits and we also go to a local rock shop.


    • Actually, because the table was made in 1800 they are not lasered, I just tied it in as a comparison to today’s technology and the laser show in the poem.

      Makes me wonder how they did slice them though at that time. In Italy, starting in the late 16th century, they specialized in carving gemstones and using them as inlay. Called “pietra dura” which means “hard stone.” I have added a note onto my post. They used hand tools like chisels I think.

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