Saturday, October 4, 2014

Poetry about Planets and Space: Playlist for October 3, 2014


“Roll on, sad world! not Mercury or Mars”

By  Frederick Goddard Tuckerman 

from Sonnets, Second Series


Roll on, sad world! not Mercury or Mars

Could swifter speed, or slower, round the sun,

Than in this year of variance thou hast done

For me. Yet pain, fear, heart-break, woes, and wars

Have natural limit; from his dread eclipse

The swift sun hastens, and the night debars

The day, but to bring in the day more bright;

The flowers renew their odorous fellowships;

The moon runs round and round; the slow earth dips,

True to her poise, and lifts; the planet-stars

Roll and return from circle to ellipse;

The day is dull and soft, the eave-trough drips;

And yet I know the splendor of the light

Will break anon: look! where the gray is white!

Seeing the Eclipse in Maine 

By  Robert Bly  

It started about noon.  On top of Mount Batte,  

We were all exclaiming.  Someone had a cardboard  

And a pin, and we all cried out when the sun  

Appeared in tiny form on the notebook cover.  

It was hard to believe.  The high school teacher  

We’d met called it a pinhole camera,  

People in the Renaissance loved to do that.  

And when the moon had passed partly through  

We saw on a rock underneath a fir tree,  

Dozens of crescents—made the same way—  

Thousands!  Even our straw hats produced  

A few as we moved them over the bare granite.  

We shared chocolate, and one man from Maine  

Told a joke.  Suns were everywhere—at our feet.


By  John Frederick Nims 

Mildest of all the powers of earth: no lightnings

For her—maniacal in the clouds. No need for

Signs with their skull and crossbones, chain-link gates:

Danger! Keep Out! High Gravity! she’s friendlier.

Won’t nurse—unlike the magnetic powers—repugnance;

Would reconcile, draw close: her passion’s love.

No terrors lurking in her depths, like those

Bound in that buzzing strongbox of the atom,

Terrors that, lossened, turn the hills vesuvian,

Trace in cremation where the cities were.

No, she’s our quiet mother, sensible.

But therefore down-to-earth, not suffering

Fools who play fast and loose among the mountains,

Who fly in her face, or, drunken, clown on cornices.

She taught our ways of walking. Her affection

Adjusted the morning grass, the sands of summer

Until our soles fit snug in each, walk easy.

Holding her hand, we’re safe. Should that hand fail,

The atmosphere we breathe would turn hysterical,

Hiss with tornadoes, spinning us from earth

Into the cold unbreathable desolations.

Yet there—in fields of space—is where she shines,

Ring-mistress of the circus of the stars,

Their prancing carousels, their ferris wheels

Lit brilliant in celebration. Thanks to her

All’s gala in the galaxy.

                                   Down here she

Walks us just right, not like the jokey moon

Burlesquing our human stride to kangaroo hops;

Not like vast planets, whose unbearable mass

Would crush us in a bear hug to their surface

And into the surface, flattened. No: deals fairly.

Makes happy each with each: the willow bend

Just so, the acrobat land true, the keystone

Nestle in place for bridge and for cathedral.

Let us pick up—or mostly—what we need:

Rake, bucket, stone to build with, logs for warmth,

The fallen fruit, the fallen child . . . ourselves.

Instructs us too in honesty: our jointed

Limbs move awry and crisscross, gawky, thwart;

She’s all directness and makes that a grace,

All downright passion for the core of things,

For rectitude, the very ground of being:

Those eyes are leveled where the heart is set.

See, on the tennis court this August day:

How, beyond human error, she’s the one

Whose will the bright balls cherish and obey

—As if in love. She’s tireless in her courtesies

To even the klutz (knees, elbows all a-tangle),

Allowing his poky serve Euclidean whimsies,

The looniest lob its joy: serene parabolas.

Man in Space

By  Billy Collins  

All you have to do is listen to the way a man

sometimes talks to his wife at a table of people

and notice how intent he is on making his point

even though her lower lip is beginning to quiver,

and you will know why the women in science

fiction movies who inhabit a planet of their own

are not pictured making a salad or reading a magazine

when the men from earth arrive in their rocket,

why they are always standing in a semicircle

with their arms folded, their bare legs set apart,

their breasts protected by hard metal disks.

From Space 

By  Katharine Coles  

You are smaller than I remember

And so is the house, set downhill

Afloat in a sea of scrub oak. From up here

It’s an ordinary box with gravel

Spread over its lid, weighting it, but

Inside it’s full of shadows and sky.

Clouds pull themselves over dry

Grass, which, if  I’m not mistaken, will erupt

Any minute in flame. Only

A spark, a sunbeam focused. From up

Here, enjoying the view, I can finally

Take you in. Will you wave back? I keep

Slingshotting around. There’s gravity

For you, but all I ever wanted was to fly

Despina, Moon of Neptune

By Christine Klocek-Lim

She said she’d rather sing alone

than perform for some random guy,

but then Voyager 2 flew by,

eyes trained on her curved form

like a desperate man (the kind

whose lady walked away forever).

He just didn’t know when to look aside. 

She said she tried to hide, quiet her light

against her father’s blue sky, but the lens

found her four times. She gave up

silence for fame, gave up space

and time, until the sun finally fell

down across the steely horizon.

Her father Neptune didn’t seem to care

and that was what hurt her most.

The galaxy beyond everything she knew

was so much less infinite than she’d hoped.

The camera took what he wanted

and left. Despina endured the scrutiny

of a thousand careless eyes—

In the end, she would only wear white,

the color of purity, and not even the dark

could get her to sing anymore.

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