A poem about metaphysics


Author: Lady Russell, grandmother of Bertrand Russell, from The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell, 1872-1914, p.45.


O Science metaphysical,

And very very quizzical,

You only make this maze of life the mazier;

       For boasting to illuminate

       Such riddles dark as Will and Fate

You muddle them to hazier and hazier.


       The cause of every action,

       You expound with satisfaction;

Through the mind in all its corners and recesses

       You say that you have travelled,

       And all problems unravelled

And axioms you call your learned guesses.


       Right and wrong you’ve so dissected,

       And their fragments so connected,

That which we follow doesn’t seem to matter;

       But the cobwebs you have wrought

       And the silly flies they have caught,

It needs no broom miraculous to shatter.


       You know no more than I,

       What is laughter, tear, or sigh,

Or love, or hate, or anger, or compassion;

       Metaphysics, then, adieu,

       Without you I can do,

And I think you’ll very soon be out of fashion.