Excerpt from Darwin by Ruth Padel, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Darwin

A Life in Poems

by Ruth Padel

Darwin by Ruth Padel
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2009, 160 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2012, 160 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Marnie Colton

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

More Funny Ideas About Grandeur

(from Chapter Four: Emma (1838-1851)

'To Emma, in case of my sudden death.
      I have just finished this sketch
of my species theory. If true, as I believe,
      it will be a considerable step
in science. My most solemn last request
      is that you devote 400 pounds
to its publication.'


'There is grandeur, if you look
      at every organic being
as the lineal successor of some other form,
      now buried under thousands of feet of rock.
Or else as a co-descendant, with that buried form,
      from some other inhabitant of this world
more ancient still, now lost.

Out of famine, death and struggle for existence,
      comes the most exalted end
we're capable of conceiving: creation
      of the higher animals!
Our first impulse is to disbelieve -
      how could any secondary law
produce organic beings, infinitely numerous,

characterized by most exquisite
      workmanship and adaptation?
Easier to say, a Creator designed each.
      But there is a simple grandeur in this view -
that life, with its power to grow, to reach, feel,
      reproduce, diverge, was breathed
into matter in a few forms first

and maybe only one. To say that while this planet
      has gone cycling on
according to fixed laws of gravity,
      from so simple an origin, through selection
of infinitesimal varieties, endless forms
      most beautiful and wonderful
have been, and are being, evolved.'

 

Salting the Seeds

(from Chapter Five: The coat of fur (1851-1882))

'Comparing seeds. Trying experiments
in salting them to see if they'd survive
floating across an ocean.'
To, for instance, the Galapagos.

'Have begun, at last, my species book. Shall call it
Natural Selection.' His secret step in argument.
Twenty years of evidence. Orchids, barnacles
and pigeons. The heart dances in its cave.
He meets the holes of his eyes in darkling glass
against the winter garden. No one awake.
Slow embers in the grate. The dog, a warm
white ammonite, curled
in her basket by his feet. Dawn fog dissolves
among the medlars into a wraith
you see, then lose, in the shape
of a running girl.

  • 1

Excerpted from Darwin by Ruth Padel. Copyright © 2009 by Ruth Padel. Excerpted by permission of Knopf. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Biography in Verse

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Midwinter Break
    Midwinter Break
    by Bernard MacLaverty
    Northern Ireland's Bernard MacLaverty is the author of five novels and multiple short story ...
  • Book Jacket: The Ninth Hour
    The Ninth Hour
    by Alice McDermott
    In a pivotal scene in The Ninth Hour, young Sally encounters an increasingly loathsome series of ...
  • Book Jacket: Rebellion
    Rebellion
    by Molly Patterson
    Rebellion overlays the stories of four women, spanning a century and the globe in their wide ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

An eye-opening and riveting look at how how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Love and Other Consolation Prizes
    by Jamie Ford

    Inspired by a true story, about a boy whose life is transformed at Seattle's epic 1909 World's Fair.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Twelve-Mile Straight
    by Eleanor Henderson

    An audacious epic set in rural Georgia during the years of the Depression and Prohibition.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win If the Creek Don't Rise

If the Creek Don't Rise

A debut novel bursting with heart, honesty, and homegrown grit.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y Can't M A S P O O A S E

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.