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Saturday 18 December 2010

Seeing Stars on the Poetry Bus

Two Poems (and a "haiku")

We must be humble,we
who are so easily confused
by mere appearances, he said.
But he was looking at cold stones,
eulogising them as peers of stars.
So what if he had looked at stars,
would he have likened them
to stones? Or seen instead
the point at which a formless cloud
of dust and gas achieves its destiny,
evolves a structure to become a star?
Might he have seen from where
and how the structure comes?
Would he have shared all that with us -
or can it not be caught in words?

If only that were possible
he would have taught us how to fly
wing tip to wing tip with our god -
whoever that may be.
(whoever he may be, he must
explain the stars and me.)

Might we have: seen the cloud
reach critical, its inner core
expanding, slowly for a while,
then exponentially;
seen how it grew denser; felt
the growing heat;
seen the core explode
in energy releasing
nuclear reactions;
seen it turning luminous, become
the new kid on the block?

I think he would have shown us then
a massive star, its short life over,
decaying to a supernovae,
forming a black hole.

Once, stars were pinpricks in the firmament
(My granddad told me that.)
through which the light of heaven shone
to reassure the earth.

How sad to think the only holes
are made by ex-stars now -
and so are dark and threatening,
potential spanners in
the universal works.


When I was very young
a lamplighter came round
to light my star, the lamp
outside our house.

I asked him once
who lit the lamps
in those long lines
across the sky.

That always puzzled me -
although I never wondered
much about the sun
and who lit that.

He said I was too young
to understand such things,
that I should ask my teacher -
in a year or two.

I thought he was a star -
he played with gas and fire -
before I knew
that stars were gas and fire.

So I had two -
one fixed,
one wandering -
both mine!


their micro gismo
displays two states at one time -
proving Einstein right


Rachel Fox said...

Again I hear Stevenson... don't I?

Dave King said...

Maybe, but I was hoping for Hugh MacDiarmid. I shall go away and then come back and read it with my ears open. Thanks for the response.

Unknown said...

I had a brief look at the MacDiarmid poem, Dave, and think I would need a lifetime to understand its message, which may be where you are a little ahead of me! :0) I love the second stanza of your poem 1 and your grandad's words. I can at least understand that. And I love your childhood wondering in 2 and its conclusion!

Your blog WV seems to be getting political; it says "torys" !

Dave King said...

Thanks for that Derrick
The poem is a long one, of course. A meditation. It has grabbed me more than any other poem by any author, so much so that I know much of it by heart - not all of it, though! The quote comes probably 50 or so lines into the poem.

His other great poem is A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle again a meditation, but much more accessible than the Raise Beach, the subject being Scotland and all things Scottish, its strengths and shortcomings.

CiCi said...

Poetry is in your blood, Dave. You write it, read it, interpret it, share it. Wonderful.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

I am not sure ( I haven't checked yet, if you are talking about a monk, as I would feel, at the beginning of this splendid poem but you have offered me a further opportunity to put one in my blog as a dialogue with yours.

Tabor said...

I think I appreciate your first comment more than the poem...but it is very nice!

Windsmoke. said...

You've out done yourself again. I like the second poem because i could just imagine the lamplighter going around the streets lighting the gas lamps.

Rachel Fox said...

It was this i was thinking of


Rachel Fenton said...

I was just thinking of all the people who don't celebrate Christmas but do celebrate light. Beautiful imagery, Dave, especially (for me) the lines Derrick notes and "I thought he was a star -
he played with gas and fire -"
Merry Christmas to you.

Kass said...

Wonderful star shimmering poems.

Louise said...

Dave I loved both of these poems. Made my Sunday morning. And I really liked the line about how your Grandad explained the stars. 'through which the light from heaven shone'

Dave King said...

Very generous comment. Thank you for it.

I shall look forward to reading it.

I can relate to that. Thanks for the comment.

I think I prefer the second, but I'm a little too near them both to be sure.

Thanks for the steer, I'll check it out.
Many thanks for your second comment. I have been trying to write a carol - which actually isn't getting very far - with the people who who celebrate light but not Christmas in mind. Great minds..? Thanks for your good wishes, and mine to you and yours this Christmastide.

Lovely comment. Thanks.

Dave King said...

I have looked at the Lamplighter - I confess I didn't know it, but than ks for sharing - and also the resource page, which I have bookmarked. Thanks again.

Jinksy said...

The Lamplighter highlights an age of innocence - it's delightful!

Helen said...

Both poems burst with star beauty ... I especially loved the lamplighter piece.

Kat Mortensen said...

In the first instance, I was grateful that you kept coming back to earth with references to yourself and your grandad. I find the scientific astronomy overwhelming - not in the sense of comprehension, but appreciation of its prodigiousness (still not the word I'm looking for).

I loved the colloquial last lines.

The second poem should be illustrated and published for children.

Dave King said...

Yes, that's exactly what it was: an age of innocence. Lost for ever, mores the pity.

I have to say: my preferred one, too.

I feel much the same way. I wrote a poem way back about the build-up to a storm and what goes on inside it. I thought it reasonably successful and tried to do something similar for the star. It didn't work, though. Certainly not as I had thought it. But that's astronomy, you are correct, I think: it's too overwhelming for a mere poem.

Your kind remark re the lamplighter is much appreciated.

Peter Goulding said...

At some point I suppose, all stars will form supernova and implode.
But let's get Christmas out of the way first.

Enchanted Oak said...

I also appreciate the alternation between astronomy and you on the earth. Grandad's comment stabbed me because that is what I thought of stars for a very long time. Poetry can integrate the sciences with mystery of life in a way few other things do.
The lamplighter poem as a sweet followup.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I see these as the beginning of a little book of starry poems Dave.