The Martin Rodbell Papers
To My Friends: Thoughts from 'On High'
In mid-October 1994, just a few days after the Nobel Foundation named him as Nobel Laureate, Rodbell sent e-mail copies of
this poem to a number of recipients and prefaced it with this paragraph: "Thought it a good idea to write a 'poem'
and some philosophical thoughts. After all, not everyday does it happen that I am placed on a pedestal and looked at as if
I were someone else (God or G-protein, whatever). Anyhow, this is my way of expressing gratitude, love, affection, and the
many good feelings I have for all of my friends and colleagues. . . So here's to you all--with love." This poem was
also published in "Les Prix Nobel: The Nobel Prizes 1994," edited by Tore Frängsmyr, Nobel Foundation, 1995:
Number of Image Pages:
1 (80,813 Bytes)
Reproduced with permission of the Nobel Foundation.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Relation: Nobel Banquet 'Speech' (December 10, 1994)
[1994 Nobel Diploma] (December 10, 1994)
Box Number: 1
Folder Number: 10
Series: Personal and Biographical, 1939-1999
SubSeries: Writings by Rodbell
Folder: Poems and Essays, 1964-1997
Transcript: Life on a roller coaster, oscillating from hither to yon,
no respite for the iconoclast, wandering from dusk to dawn.
Conjuring strange thoughts foreign and twice forbidden,
like Prometheus unbound, this Nobelist climbs in vain
to Andean peaks, seeking what most would proclaim insane.
Why, he ponders, are there no answers to protean questions
when others thinking cleanly and simply with Occam's sharp razor
proclaim what seems obvious given the beam of their unerring laser.
Nature, happily unfettered with philosophy, or with cunning, or with intent
moves relentlessly onward or even backward with energy unspent while we
mortals test and probe with twinkling machines blinking precisely at each
movement, striving to unravel its irresolute randomness, its fathomless,
unlimited, meaningless rush into spiralling chaos, oblivious of its
multitudinous trials & errors which we pontifically believe must be unerring
truth & resolution.
The laugh is on those who, burdened with pretensions of truth, believe they
can fathom within 15 minutes of human existence after what has transpired
over eons of space and time in this Universe.
So, I extol the intuitions encapsulated in the folds of my mind
from whence occasionly they hurtle to the forebrain and in a twinkling of a
proton's discharge bring to fruition a thought, an idea borne on the feathery
appendages of teeming neurons wedded in a seamless synergy. Those fleeting
moments are cherished as are those precious impulses imparted by the
innumerable individuals who nurtured and instilled unknowingly their
encrypted thoughts with mine.
So, with these fanciful thoughts in mind I give praise to you- my friends, my
colleagues, my soul-mates, my loved ones- for letting my soul and thoughts
meander hither and yonder in this attempt at philosophy and poetry. We
now belong to the Gods on high who praise us for our frailties and our
achievements . . . Forgive me if I stand alone before King and Queen
. . . Know this, you will be in my thoughts at that festive moment.
With much love and thanks . . . Marty R.
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