The possibility that travelling in space will bring the human race nearer to the answer to it’s deepest question, “ What is the origin and meaning of our own self-
Everything woke up,
jumped out of bed and stretched.
Nothing could stop now.
Whatever was going to happen.
Despite the fierce joy of the fiery creation
Bleak embers glow in every direction.
So, as the fire engines come, seeking flame,
the note of dejection is always the same
A falling tone as they learn, once again,
It was not you they sought;
That the point of excitement may never return.
But can the time come when this mood will reverse
And even dismay can turn to elation?
Perhaps when our Universe starts to contract,
When the end is in sight and the final bell tolls,
Will the fire engines pass with an upbeat note,
Ignoring the part for the greater whole,
As they race toward the last catastrophe.
was not expected to be too successful,
though success he was,
(you can see it written all over his face)
because if he were,
he would destroy all of the others,
and then, his meteoric rise burnt out,
fall in upon himself;
a dark body
moving too fast
in the wrong place
Most theories to describe the structure of the Universe require the existence of 10 or 11 dimensions rather than the three dimensions of space and one of time that we can understand from own experience. The models suggest that before the big-
Some say that, before the start,
the Universe had six dimensions;
three of space,
and three of kind;
faith that every soul will be alike,
hope that such a one will lie close by
and love that, when the word comes,
lets them stand apart.
Then, when time began its race,
at first place alone remained
and some have thought
care withered, like a dried, or vanished, core.
Some, though, believe in the reverse,
that space is small;
that each 'here' is alike
and through its door
are fields in which the soul will graze.
Stars in daylight
Centre of passion, soul of village life,
where young men met, and women drew their needs
from your cool heart with shapely grace,
and carried the yoked load with splash and swing,
stirring such feelings, pure and true, or base.
No wonder then, that in your echoing depths,
dreamers would see bright stars at noon.
"But are there stars that could lie overhead,
or bend their rays to pass your mossy brink?"
"Only some few that burn with youthful love,
or demon Algol with his leering wink ,
We did not enjoy the old stone age.
It began nowhere
and went on too long,
smelling of damp caves, that only the children liked
and the sun shone less brightly than it does now.
Then came the new stone age;
people emerged and began to walk tall
and to dream of Georgian Houses
and wonderful cities to come.
The bronze age was best,
with remarkable copper pans hanging on walls
and swords were so blunt, that though brandished with style
they would not hurt a fly,
With verdigris never a problem,
indeed it was welcome;
remarkable blend of Bordeaux mixture and noble decay.
How did the iron age dawn?
With one fierce clang
and the sad weapons knew that the old game was up.
Heavy, magnetic, the colour of blood.
Climax and ending; both varied and dull?
Nonetheless, iron is what all shall become.
Dirt, dust and decay will vanish away
and iron shall be left with no means to rust;
and on the last day, when the trumpet shall sound,
and all have returned,
gathered up in their ark,
then iron will shine out
like a pin in the dark.
An object travelling at the speed of the photon does not move through time. If we could travel at this speed to the nearest star, the journey would take four years, but our clock would not have advanced by a single second.
The photon does not know time
Wherever it was,
and wherever it is,
it will be!
Yes, that is clear,
but still there is one thing I don't understand.
Supposing another decides to set out
on the very same journey,
how will it manage?
That is easy.
All will be there
that ever existed
and etched upon space
from the very beginning
the weight of their heartbreak,
the light of their laughter.
Once upon a time,
people dwelling in a distant land
launched a rocket to release
a swarm of needles circling in space,
to make a mirror sending back
good or evil as they found.
Most have forgotten what results were gained,
or whether any fell into a watching eye,
changing its vision of the world;
or ever spelled
low in the sky.
David killed his Goliath
and became an imperfect King.
Without this he could not have been
lifted from the ranks
to find favour in high places?
Now we too must turn on strength beyond our own
And leave the birth-
Coast of the sun!
No golden beaches there, nor rocky shores,
but waves, hissing, crashing, throbbing.
Fiery whirlpools, currents diving deep,
returning incandescent noise.
And yet if we could hear only the smallest part
separated into pure sounds,
what bells would ring
in the skies!
At this white heat
and unimaginable speed
change rides still on a long base note,
where none can guess
the darkness of the incandescent night.
are faint reflections of that fire,
where light without
meets light within.
Can sunbeams lie?
Is it they, not he,
who have crowned him
King of the Sky
with a crown that he never wears?
Is it they, who
travelling ninety three million miles together,
now appear to diverge
as though to say
our Lord and Master
dwells just overhead,
who sees all
and loves equally well
all that he sees.
You are my song of blue, brown and white,
while I gaze transfixed.
Maybe I have raised tides on your surface
caressing your golden shores,
but you once melted my heart
and watched it set.
The water rises and falls
in the mangrove roots
and white clouds hug the northern coasts,
but I can never be at one with you
in the airless sky.
The diamond ring is a phenomenon seen in a total solar eclipse. The ring of fire is the imagined equivalent phenomenon seen from the moon in a lunar eclipse, accounting for the red cast of the moon within the umbra.
She who once had worn
the incomparable diamond ring
turns to the groom
and sees a black disc
in a burning fiery rim.
His dark eye;
his malignant bloodshot grin.
From a poem by Borges. Y esta todo: la Virgen con el nino: al flanco, San Jose (algunos tienen la buena fortuna De ver su vara): y el buen burrito blanco Trota que trota los campos de la luna. It is all there: the Virgin with The Child, Saint Joseph (some have the good fortune to see his staff); and the good little white donkey which trots and trots over the fields of the moon.
Some people see the holy family there.
The little donkey too,
its shoulders bowed,
cast out, bereft,
the gentle joy of their return.
In a perfect world
The gibbous moon
(either new or old)
hangs like a bow in the sky,
aimed at the sun.
In a perfect world
the invisible arrow must fly to the golden heart;
but this is not such a perfect world
and either it overshoots,
or falls short!
In 2004 Venus passes in front of the sun
and again in 2012. She will be as near to us then
as we can ever see her.
Such a short time between events
for which we have waited so long.
But look from her eyes,
dewy with darkness.
Overhead a star is shining at midnight
and brighter than any we see here.
Round like a marble
the marble of fear,
that was found,
that was found,
that was found,
that was found,
that was found
and was lost
in the dust
on the playground
There comes a time
when you first learn of the Asteroid belt.
After that, it is not possible to say,
I did not know!
There comes a time
when you first hear that part of all that we are
is shattered or incomplete.
Jupiter, quite obviously, does not care
that the broken cliffs
reach out like skerries at the mouth of a drowned fiord
with the same inhospitable hospitality,
as though someone could live there,
or find rest
until storms rise.
There comes a time
when you first learn
that Christ died;
his disciples dispersed.
Then comes a time
when some tire of this heavy mass.
It is thought
that they may hope to find all they require
far out in the asteroid belt.
There comes the time
when you see in your minds eye
how the asteroid belt curves in a great arc;
the sunlit rocks turn as they pass
the paths that they take are never exactly the same
and true darkness is not known.
The first pictures of Eros showed an elongated shape resembling the leg of a Greek statue. However in the best images it looks more like a foot, in particular the famous foot of the Statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus.
What is this star
that, in elliptical orbit,
threatens to obliterate humanity with passion?
Our atmosphere could not burn it,
or seas quench until too late.
But it has been placated.
trapped in weak gravity
has descended to this disembodied limb
and resting beside the knee,
on pale illuminated skin,
will wait for love
and a day.
The four Galilean Satellites of Jupiter. It has been argued that if they were visible to the naked eye science would be immeasurably more advanced. The opposing view it that they would have constituted a powerful focus for astrology and superstition. The order of distance from Jupiter is Io, Europa, Galymede, Calisto. But the order seen from earth is constantly changing.
Io, Europa, Ganymede, Calisto,
like a vast celestial toy, but much too far away,
noses pressed against the window
at some magical display.
Ganymede, Io, Calisto, Europa,
crossing, passing, further, closer,
in a gliding ghostly trance,
like winter flies that hover in their never-
Europa, Calisto, Ganymede, Io,
sad example in the heavens, had we seen you would we know?
Would you cast out superstition; lead from darkness into bliss,
or deliver into bondage like the traitor's tender kiss?
Calisto, Ganymede, Io, Europa,
held forever on your tethers, slaves to one despotic power.
There to walk the endless paths of suffering and grief,
whilst sweeping out your orbits in the halter of belief.
Europa, Io, Calisto, Ganymede,
devoted in their service, not expecting to be freed,
but reveal the haunting beauty of the movements of the spheres,
as they circle in their prison, held in stay like unshed tears.
He was the leader and founder member,
and he revered the Great Master, Handel.
Handel comes here from beyond the earth.
To be precise, he comes from Jupiter,
the Heavenly Choirmaster,
you have only to listen to the music
to know that;
what is more,
every so often, he will return.
Yes, we must admit,
there is a certain logic. This great planet,
ponderous though it may be
is made of nothing more substantial that air,
but turns on its axis
much faster than our earth.
But, listen again.
When you hear Handel's music
and are overawed,
do you not feel that this excessive reverence
does him disservice?
Do you not ask,
knowing he was God,
have found it easier to die?
But the answer is there,
in the joy in the Messiah.
Seductive in the entry of the Queen of Sheba.
An organisation that most probably had only one member.
The planet Neptune sweeps round the sun
from aphelion to perihelion
and all the time waiting for something to happen.
Apparently it has caused a stir
in the outer reaches of the solar system,
driving Triton into a distraction
of retrograde motion.
Supposing it were to cut loose
and go bobbing away through space.
Can you imagine somebody saying,
I saw a large planet just wandering by,
with nowhere to go,
but seeking a star
without a companion.
Nothing could be older, or more remote, than Sunday suits,
hanging in dusty darkness
until they turn to dry silvery life,
like a comet ascending to its moment of glory
leaving a sparkling trail,
the head turned one way
and the wings (in this case)
turned the other
before descending to the deep folds of space,
a cosmic wardrobe,
an Oort cloud of clothes
hidden beyond the orbit of Pluto.
As summer follows midsummer day,
follows the time of joy
and is taken away
and what remains is nothing,
or less than nothing.
But there is a second goal:
a dark eye
and it guides as surely as light.
It asks nothing
and, in return,
gives nothing back.
As though the father said
take your share of my goods
and into a distant land.
I have done that;
I did not squander or spend,
and for you
I have killéd the fatted calf.
You could peel the earth like an apple
removing all life
and look on
while the white flesh turns brown.
you could peel the earth like an orange
and rebuild the sphere from the skin on its white pith,
the flesh gone.
Then again you could crack the earth like a nut,
but if you did that
you would have no choice
but to sweep the broken shell down,
onto the sun.
We have come this far,
but the sun’s rays are cold now.
If we go on from here,
we will soon be
The star that we followed has not set,
but its light comes to us cold over the burning stream.
If you told me it truly,
that one kind of fire can pass through another,
I would never believe you.
And although it was always there,
and at night it is ours,
we often forgot to see it,
Many times it was indeed hidden by clouds
that were not of our own will.
Then we were lost,
but we carried a stone within us.
Sometimes it became a jewel
that flashed fire
and at others
but more often than not, sullen as jet.
There were times when the pull hurt
and we might have wished to be blindfold
and tied to the mast.
Then there were things we have not done
places we never knew
and kingdoms that might have been won.
But we live as we always have, in the time
after the arrow has been released
and before meeting its target
when all knowledge can be given
because it is too late.
And, because it is too late,
it does not matter
if we fail to understand what the north-
That nothing can either be gained or lost,
and the lodestone and the lodestar are one and the same.
What are the colours of stars?
but is it required that colours be named?
Homer, the blind poet,
spoke of the wine-
and his words have told us more or less
than we could otherwise understand,
that the sea was warm or cold,
deep or shallow,
teeming with life, or dead
and seen either at day or night.
So, when we ask, what colour is Sirius?
What colour is the dog star as we see it rising over the water
and look nine years back.
At first all we know is that stars are old
like the medieval tapestries of leaping dogs
so well captured by Vivaldi in Autumn,
and here we have Orion's dog
at his master's side.
The Egyptians, wise after their time, called it the red star,
but red was the only colour that, in their infancy,
they had learned to name.
We now know; we have analysed
and the spectrum is blue-
and so it appears, low in the sky, flashing sea-
But we can speculate that there has been
a death and a birth in the family.
Blue Sirius and its white dwarf companion
born when the tired red twin died.
It is certain now that the star we call Sirius B,
was once a crimson giant, hanging over our heads,
but, becoming tired, died, maybe one night not long ago,
perhaps in the dog days
when it does not rise,
or it might have occurred in the dead of winter,
in the ‘halcyon days’,
when the sea is flat
and in some hidden place,
that ships do not visit,
the kingfisher nests
and we see it flying low on the water,
flashing red over the sea-
“There's gold beneath those hills!”
There's gold in sea water,
but that is not what makes the sea blue,
or red in transmitted light,
though gold can be beaten out so thinly
that the mind will not encompass its extent.
All the gold the world has ever won, would fill a cube
whose side a man could walk taking only one breath,
which may well be his last.
So, if this fell to earth
would not everyone then come in from the night side
as though the sun descended
and, lying on the surface, formed the place
about which all must rotate?
But if stars came down too?
That would be different and more serious,
because it has happened.
A single star, that shines with silver light,
has often fallen, but is hidden beyond silence.
And also we know this; all of the world's silence
would fit within a cube a man could walk taking no breath at all,
but is so malleable that, beaten out,
will cover the whole of space
So, if this had fallen and was lying on the grass,
could we expect to find it?
Would this be, not the centre, the point
about which the whole world turns,
but the opposite, the one place around which
nothing ever moves?And yet such silence, that comes before
is so intense it distorts perception
and bends light.
It is an everlasting fire
and, once kindled,
to permeate the whole of space.
The people there are not like us.
They believe in heaven, every one.
They see it, they trace it back
like light from its prism
and they know that their world will dissolve in sound.
They sing (as we cannot)
and they believe that each is a song
sung only once.
They think that pain is no more than a change of key
and in this they are right.
Also they know that some keys are so remote
that few may return
and are honest enough to hope they will never be called away
into that far place.
Meanwhile each one
glitters and shines in the light
and some, like diamonds
scattering green and blue
crimson and flame,
and are gone.
They seem so close together;
almost a classic case of then and us.
But, whether the space between them sings or not,
we are nearer here to some of them,
than they are to each other.
You might consider matter dense enough,
carrying a heavy case
but not if you think about
the energy of empty space and neutron stars.
Now we know our emptiness consists of everything;
all opposites, that cancel out.
Silence is just the murmuring of all the things unsaid.
An empty page, white noise of unmarked thoughts.
We are fortunate however
as there are realms where different rules apply.
Another kind of emptiness.
Like waking one day to find the air has been removed
and standing on the threshold of the world.
There it is possible to feel the chill wind of loneliness.
Stars are so far apart from each other,
they might well be alone;
but together they make up galaxies,
those wheels of fire
that circle across the skies
belying the awesome emptiness
of God's throne.
There are two kinds of space with their own stars,
the dark and light,
The dark stars wander like so many ghosts
blind among tombstones.
There is one near us now.
It will come close
until its night
enters our own day
in the absent soul of the ghost,
the living eye on the dead face.
Mice can fall from any height and live.
They may not have some problems sorted out.
supplies of cheese,
space sickness pills,
but never need to think about
the fall that kills.
ForJosephine, who once gave a lecture on gravity
Arthur Mee’s Children’s Encyclopedia, Volume 5, launched a lifelong interest in astronomy. The poem ‘Bells’ was the Authors first ‘mature’ work and most probably the stimulus for all that followed. The sub-