Going for Water

At our Section Meeting on December 3, 2022 Jennifer Greene from the Natural Science Section spoke to us about water and her lifetime experience as a scientist who researches the physical and spiritual mysteries of water. Jennifer spoke about poetry — how poetry prepares the scientist to view nature and speak about nature with exactitude and tact. She referenced the book by Theodor Schwenk, Sensitive Chaos, whose title is taken from the fragments by Novalis. At the beginning of the evening, I showed a brief video of otters eating and swimming in the American River, filmed during a heavy storm on December 1, 2022. This video celebrates otters and water. In the meeting last week, we spoke about Kathleen Raine, poet and scholar. The title of Gavin Maxwell’s famous book about otters Ring of Bright Water is taken from a poem by Kathleen Raine, who is one of Jennifer’s favorite poets. Kathleen and Gavin were very close. The poem “Going for Water” is the title of a poem by Robert Frost, who was a friend of Percy MacKaye.


In olden days religious homage was done to water, for men felt it to be filled with divine beings whom they could only approach with the greatest reverence. Divinities of water—the water gods—often appear at the beginning of a mythology . . .

— Theodor Schwenk, from the foreword to Sensitive Chaos


“In a work of art, chaos must shimmer through the veil of order.”

— Novalis