Infi­nite Variations

Mar­ci Nelligan
  • Review
By – October 17, 2012

For half a cen­tu­ry and more a debate has ensued about the so-called eter­nal con­flict between sci­en­tif­ic evo­lu­tion and cre­ation spir­i­tu­al­i­ty. Here­in enters a new voice in the con­ver­sa­tion, Mar­ci Nel­li­gan, who writes poet­ry inte­grat­ing Darwin’s Ori­gin of Species and the Bible into poet­ic vers­es such as “…We are brought into life/​anticipated on the same/​division, instruments/​that briefly play./So whol­ly, so slightly/​insufficient, we believe/​as we endeavor/​this con­tin­u­al instinct/​for being, or to be.” Add to the mix the won­der of desire, “…if you cir­cum­cise desire/​existence becomes dif­fi­cult/- the per­fect elab­o­ra­tion of chance…” To Nel­li­gan the mem­o­ry of our ori­gin is lost and becomes the reli­gious feel­ing that says yes to con­straints, which is what we even­tu­al­ly become. But know­ing that both co-exist is the free­dom this remark­able poet­ry offers, a new begin­ning, a uni­ty of the sacred and secular. 

Deb­o­rah Schoen­e­man, is a for­mer Eng­lish teacher/​Writing Across the Cur­ricu­lum Cen­ter Coor­di­na­tor at North Shore Hebrew Acad­e­my High School and coed­i­tor of Mod­ern Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture: A Library of Lit­er­ary Crit­i­cism, Vol. VI, pub­lished in 1997.

Discussion Questions