The isolation of two milliard light years – Tanikawa Shuntaro

The isolation of two milliard light years

The human race, on its little ball,
Sleeps, wakes, and works,
Wishing at times for companionship with Mars.

The Martians, on their little ball –
What they do, I don’t know.
Maybe the sloop, wike, and wook.
But at times they wish for companionship with Earth –
That’s certain.

Universal gravitation
Is the pulling together of the force of isolation.

The universe expands
And so we all unite our wants.

The universe distends
And so we are all uneasy.

The isolation of two milliard light years
Prompts an involuntary sneeze.

– Tanikawa Shuntaro

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Moon Landing – W. H. Auden

Moon Landing

It’s natural the Boys should whoop it up for
so huge a phallic triumph, an adventure
    it would not have occurred to women
    to think worth while, made possible only

because we like huddling in gangs and knowing
the exact time: yes, our sex may in fairness
    hurrah the deed, although the motives
    that primed it were somewhat less than menschlich.

A grand gesture. But what does it period?
What does it osse? We were always adroiter
    with objects than lives, and more facile
    at courage than kindness: from the moment

the first flint was flaked this landing was merely
a matter of time. But our selves, like Adam’s,
    still don’t fit us exactly, modern
    only in this – our lack of decorum.

Homer’s heroes were certainly no braver
than our Trio, but more fortunate: Hector
    was excused the insult of having
    his valor covered by television.

Worth going to see? I can well believe it.
Worth seeing? Mneh! I once rode through a desert
    and was not charmed: give me a watered
    lively garden, remote from blatherers

about the New, the von Brauns and their ilk, where
on August mornings I can count the morning
    glories, where to die has a meaning,
    and no engine can shift my perspective.

Unsmudged, thank God, my Moon still queens the Heavens
as She ebbs and fulls, a Presence to glop at,
    Her Old Man, made of grit not protein,
    still visits my Austrian several

with His old detachment, and the old warnings
still have power to scare me: Hybris comes to
    an ugly finish, Irreverence
    is a greater oaf than Superstition.

Our apparatniks will continue making
the usual squalid mess called History:
    all we can pray for is that artists,
    chefs and saints may still appear to blithe it.

August 1969

– W. H. Auden

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Cascadilla Falls – A. R. Ammons

Cascadilla Falls

I went down by Cascadilla
Falls this evening, the stream below the falls,
and picked up a
handsized stone
kidney-shaped, testicular, and

thought all its motions into it,
the 800 mph earth spin,
the 190-million-mile yearly
displacement around the sun,
the overriding
grand
haul

of the galaxy with the 30,000
mph of where
the sun’s going:
thought all the interweaving
motions
into myself: dropped

the stone to dead rest:
the stream from other motions
broke
rushing over it:
shelterless,
I turned

to the sky and stood still:
oh
I do
not know where I am going
that I can live my life
by this single creek.

– A. R. Ammons

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Astro-Gymnastics – Piet Hein

Astro-Gymnastics

Go on a starlit night,
  stand on your head,
leave your feet dangling
  outwards into space,
and let the starry
  firmament you tread
be, for the moment,
  your elected base.

Feel Earth’s colossal weight
  of ice and granite,
of molten magma,
  water, iron, and lead;
and briefly hold
  this strangely solid planet
balanced upon
  your strangely solid head.

– Piet Hein

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