What little we have ever understood
is like an offering we make beside the sea.
It is pure worship when pursued
as its own end, to find out. Mystery,
the undiminishable silent flood,
stretches on out from where we pray
round the clear altar flame. The god
accepts the sacrifice and turns away.
- Ursula Le Guin
I don’t normally think of Ursula Le Guin as a poet; I rather think of her as a science fiction author. I know that she has also written some fantasy novels (Earthsea, I think?). But this poem came to my attention in a timely manner, as a fellow graduate student and I were just discussing the philosophy of science, the goals of ecology, and the future of our research.