A little poetry and prose from the Blue Marble Space family

A nebula of greens and purples in space

“Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.” 
— Carl Sandburg, from The Atlantic, March 1923


We are certainly in trying times. With the current global pandemic of COVID-19 disease driven by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, we can all use a little more time sharing with friends and family and connecting as much as we can while working together to distance ourselves physically and “flatten the curve”.

As we live in the digital age and the internet allows us to now connect around the globe as never before, we can still find our community voice during these rough days. We can still lift each other up. And we, your friends and family in the Blue Marble Space community, want to lift all of you up along with us.

During one of our recent online meetings, several of our members of Blue Marble Space shared some of their favorite poetry and prose. Words of wisdom and lines of levity to bring a little cheer and thoughtfulness to our days. We’d love to share those works with you here! Below, are the poems, quotes, lyrics, and more that we shared. We hope they help lift you up in your day!


When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer
Walt Whitman

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

(Submitted by Julia DeMarines)


Robert Service, “The Bard of the Yukon”

Maternity
Robert Service

There once was a Square, such a square little Square,
And he loved a trim Triangle;
But she was a flirt and around her skirt
Vainly she made him dangle.
Oh he wanted to wed and he had no dread
Of domestic woes and wrangles;
For he thought that his fate was to procreate
Cute little Squares and Triangles.

Now it happened one day on that geometric way
There swaggered a big bold Cube,
With a haughty stare and he made that Square
Have the air of a perfect boob;
To his solid spell the Triangle fell,
And she thrilled with love’s sweet sickness,
For she took delight in his breadth and height—
But how she adored his thickness!

So that poor little Square just died of despair,
For his love he could not strangle;
While the bold Cube led to the bridal bed
That cute and acute Triangle.
The Square’s sad lot she has long forgot,
And his passionate pretensions …
For she dotes on her kids—Oh such cute Pyramids
In a world of three dimensions.

(Submitted by Carl Pilcher)


An essay submitted by Alex Mather, who named the upcoming Mars rover Perseverance


“Curiosity. InSight. Spirit. Opportunity.

Alex Mather wins the Name the Rover competition

If you think about it, all of these names of past Mars rovers are qualities we possess as humans.

We are always curious, and seek opportunity. We have the spirit and insight to explore the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But, if rovers are to be the qualities of us as a race, we missed the most important thing. Perseverance.

We as humans evolved as creatures who could learn to adapt to any situation, no matter how harsh. We are a species of explorers, and we will meet many setbacks on the way to Mars. However, we can persevere. We, not as a nation but as humans, will not give up. Even faced with bitter losses such as Opportunity and Vikram 2, the human race will always persevere into the future.


(Submitted by Graham Lau)


The Jabberwocky
Lewis Carroll

An illustration of the Jabberwocky by John Tenniel in black and white
The Jabberwocky, illustrated by John Tenniel (1871)

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
      The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
      The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
      Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
      And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
      The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
      And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
      The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
      He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
      Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
      He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.

(Submitted by Jacob Haqq-Misra)


An old drawing representing the cicada and the ant from La Cigale et la Fourmi

La Cigale et la Fourmi
Jean de La Fontaine

The cicada having sung
All summer long,
Found herself most destitute
When the north wind blew :
Not even one little morsel
Of fly or worm.
She went to plea her famish
To her neighbor the ant,
Begging her to lend her
A little grain so she’d survive
Until the new season.
“I shall pay you, she told her,
Before the harvest, animal’s oath,
Interest and principal.”
The ant is not a lender :
This is the least of her faults.
“What were you doing during the warm season ?
She asked this borrower.
— Night and day, to anyone
I sang, please you if it may.
— You sang ? I’m delighted :
Well, dance now.”

(Submitted by Sanjoy SomEnglish translation of the poem by Camille Chevalier-Karfis)


The following are song lyrics written and submitted by Jennifer Piaseczny

The Earth from space as seen by Apollo astronauts

Still water,
Self Portrait,
Reflective
Glass.
A mirror
In every room.

Photographs,
Followers,
How to look
good.
A feeling:
Insecurity.

If I could leave myself,
I would see myself.
I’d look like
humankind.

When we leave ourselves,
we see ourselves.
Blue Marble:
humankind.


A book cover for Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon showing two hands wrapped around a ball
Star Maker (1937)

An excerpt from Star Maker
Olaf Stapledon

…I perceived that I was on a little round grain of rock and metal, filmed with water and with air, whirling in sunlight and darkness. And on the skin of that little grain all the swarms of men, generation by generation, had lived in labour and blindness, with intermittent joy and intermittent lucidity of spirit. And all their history, with its folk-wanderings, its empires, its philosophies, its proud sciences, its social revolutions, its increasing hunger for community, was but a flicker in one day of the lives of stars.

(Submitted by Graham Lau)


A color painting by Ted Harrison representing the Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert Service
The Cremation of Sam McGee
Ted Harrison (1986)

The Cremation of Sam McGee
Robert Service

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam ’round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he’d often say in his homely way that “he’d sooner live in hell.”

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we’d close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn’t see;
It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o’erhead were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and “Cap,” says he, “I’ll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I’m asking that you won’t refuse my last request.”

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn’t say no; then he says with a sort of moan:
“It’s the cursèd cold, and it’s got right hold till I’m chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet ’tain’t being dead—it’s my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you’ll cremate my last remains.”

A pal’s last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn’t a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn’t get rid, because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: “You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it’s up to you to cremate those last remains.”

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows— O God! how I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
And I’d often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the “Alice May.”
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then “Here,” said I, with a sudden cry, “is my cre-ma-tor-eum.”

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared—such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn’t like to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don’t know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: “I’ll just take a peep inside.
I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked”; … then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.
It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm—
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

(Submitted by Carl Pilcher)


In the front matter of a book bearing the epic poem Apocalypse by Frederick Turner, was the following quote:

“…The Future is the Bible of the Free”
Herman Melville

(Submitted by Heshan “Grasshopper” Illangkoon)


We hope these submissions from some of our family find you well and safe. If you’d like to share some uplifting words, some poetry, or some humor with our extended digital family, please visit us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.