2011/10/03 § Leave a comment

always accurately know where to move and when,
and likewise
birds have an accurate built-in time sense
and orientation.

Humanity, however,
lacking such instincts resorts to scientific
research. Its nature is illustrated by the following occurrence.

A certain soldier
had to fire a cannon at six o’clock sharp every evening.
Being a soldier he did so. When his accuracy was investigated he explained:
I go by
the absolutely accurate chronometer in the window
of the clock maker down in the city. Every day at seventeen forty-five I set my watch by it and
climb the hill where my canon stands ready.
At seventeen fifty-nine precisely I step up to the cannon and at eighteen hours sharp I fire.

And it was clear
that this method of firing was absolutely accurate.
All that was left was to check that the chronometer. So
the clock maker down in the city was questioned about his instrument’s accuracy.

Oh, said the clock maker,
this is one of the most accurate instruments ever. Just imagine,
for many years now a canon has been fired at six o’clock sharp.
And every day I look at this chronometer
and always it shows exactly six.

So much for accuracy.
And fish move in the water, and from the skies
comes a rushing of wings while
Chronometers tick and cannons boom.

Miroslav Holub

“On the Contrary” and Other Poems, (1984) translated by Ewald Osers, Bloodaxe Books Newcastle upon Tyne


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