Give Me Wings So I Might Fly
I have been known for a great many things; artist, sculptor, mathematician, astronomer, geologist and engineer. My skills are sought by dukes and monks. But, it’s not enough. Dear Lord, if you are listening, give me wings so I might fly.
I look through the diagrams of my flying machines. Feeling doubt, both in myself and in my works, I mutter, “Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake.”
I’d been so sure they would work, yet they didn’t. I’d designed them meticulously, sketched them out in detail, I knew what materials should be used, from wooden frames to taffeta sails. Birds and bats can fly, I’ve emulated the design of their wings on my flying machines. And yet, still they will not work. Sighing deeply, I walk outside to watch the setting sun.
It’s as I stand there, in the silent evening, that I see the starlings out of the corner of my eye. My focus is drawn to one as it ducks and dives, soaring through the twilit sky. Its movement is captivating, I can imagine how its tiny heart beats the blood through the veins to those muscles, powering every sweep of the wings. I gasp with realisation. Simplicity really is the ultimate sophistication.
Starlings flock in the Florentine evening, forming a great murmuration, their plumage shining with iridescence in a sky painted gold, crimson and ochre by the setting sun. The Arno runs like a river of blood towards Pisa.
I know now, in my heart, why my flying machines won’t work. The starlings have shown me. I go back indoors, pull a parchment towards me and write, ‘Nature is the source of all true knowledge. She has her own logic, her own laws, she has no effect without cause nor invention without necessity.’
I understand now why my flying machines don’t work. I continue, ‘Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature because, in her inventions, nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous.’
One day I will fly.
Editors Note: The italicized sections are actual quotes from this great man. We’ll let you figure out who he is!