The Friday Poem on 17/02/23
We chose ‘Evolution’ by Colm Scully to be our Friday Poem this week because it manages to both sum up and interrogate the supreme self-confidence of the human race. With the benefit of hindsight, a tendency to cognitive bias, and a generous dollop of wishful thinking, we can believe pretty much anything we want to believe about ourselves. But there’s a thing called hubris, which the Greeks knew a bit about. We like the way this poem undermines our self-positioning from the get-go, we like its tone, its insight, and its humour.
These days I remember things that never happened;
how the world was won
by us, through our evolution,
winning each fitness battle that we fought.
How we changed just the right amount
at just the right time;
watching, carefully, the giraffes growing their long necks,
watching the ants organise.
Still, now we can look with satisfaction
at the sacrifices made;
hairless winters without clothes,
the endemic sore back.
Oh, how we always picked the right solution;
the bigger brain over wings,
the opposable thumb over night vision.
Knowing deep in our psyche,
someday we would create radar,
someday invent aeroplanes.