Happy Birthday Charles Darwin! Today we celebrated Darwin’s 203 Birthday.
I just returned from viewing a movie you must see, “Creation,” based upon the book “Annie’s Box,” written by Darwin’s great, great, grandson, Randal Keynes. The movie was shown at CFI Indiana to a full house. Nobody moved during film, no one got up or even twitched as far as I could see from the back of the room. I thought I saw a few tears, besides mine. Darwin dearly loved all his children but it is said 10 year old Annie was his favorite. She died a tragic death at a time of great stress for Darwin. Emma, his beloved wife and he struggled with his disbelief in God and her staunch religious beliefs. To make matters worth Darwin had recently received a letter from George Wallace who also had arrived at the theory of evolution. Darwin feared his life’s work would be scooped. On top of everything, Darwin suffered from an unknown malady that made his life miserable. At the urging of of his friends, including Huxley, Hooker, and ultimately the support of his wife Emma, he published his earth shaking “Origin of Species.”
The fantastic movie does not have the detail of the book so by all means read the book. Annie was by all recollections an unusually bright, and sensitive child who had tuned into her father’s interest and suffering. Her death was the tipping point for Darwin. When God did not answer his last resort desperate prayers or Emma’s, Darwin openly returned to his natural inclinations that if a god existed he was cruel or impotent or both. Annie’s box contained mementos that Darwin and Emma had saved concerning their beloved daughter. The box had been forgotten until it was discovered by his great, great grandson. It inspired him to write the book.
My modest tribute to one of the three most influential scientists that ever lived is the following poem.
Darwin’s Daughter Dies
What kind of father does not kneel to pray when his daughter suffers her last day?
Sick as only the innocent can be, whose frail body from sick bed is freed;
Who napped in her father’s most gentle arms, fussed with his hair with childish charm,
pirouetted before him on the Sand Walk and pulled on his hand not needing to talk.
She played at his feet among barnacle jars, begged him to identify twinkling stars.
She fussed with his cuffs and pulled on his collar, snuck pinches of snuff to him in the parlor.
She faded in spite of prayers from dear Emma. Over dear Annie they cried in dilemma.
God was having his way with the child as with sparrows that fall in the wild.
Dear little Annie lived just ten short years, died in the arms of a father in tears.
Alone on Sand Walk the father still came, admired by scientists; now basking in fame.
But, all of that fame meant nothing to him compared to his loss so sad and so grim.
Oh, to swing her in autumn’s bright leaves, stroll with her through oceans of daisies.
Who was this man who shed tears outside the parish church with dead Annie inside?
Who was this man devoted to science not god, whilst he lay dear Annie down in cold sod?
‘Twas the man who loved beetles, barnacles, and worms, finches, and tortoises, baobabs, and ferns.
‘Twas the man who was loving to children and wife, who sought to reveal the mysteries of life.
If you know not his theory, his earth-shaking claims, check out Charles Darwin, the most famous of names.
His love of dear Annie was much greater in worth than his grand theory that shook the whole earth.