Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Sonnets for the Space Age

Since the Space Age is now fifty years and five days old (see my October 4, 2007, blog), I am going to show you five sonnets that I wrote thirty years ago. For the purists among you, they are of the Elizabethan type, having fourteen lines of iambic pentameter, rhymed abab cdcd efef gg.

Sonnets for the Space Age, circa 1976

Technology has shrunk our modern world;
No room today for the miraculous.
In space a big blue marble has been hurled,
And astronauts report the marble’s us.
Computers speed man’s progress on its way
Without regard to race or sex or creed;
The federal grant’s the order of the day
Without regard to truth or cost or need.
So equal opportunities abound
(Minorities don’t ever fall from grace);
And new solutions, almost daily found,
Are rushed to cure the ills of Adam’s race.
But seldom now does prayer storm Heaven’s gates:
Inside, the Lord sits patiently and waits.

There was a time when life was slower-paced
And one could get to know his neighbor well.
Today each moment’s precious, none to waste.
Man’s much too busy hurrying toward Hell.
And like a lemming, jostled by the crowd,
He thrashes wildly with the drowning men;
He downs his drink and laughs a bit too loud,
And dashes out into the night again.
So helter-skelter, racing madly on,
He wears a mask to try to hide the lies;
His painted smile denies that time is gone,
But something doth betray him ‘round the eyes.
Exhausted, spent, he plunges past the goal
To gain the world and lose his sacred soul.

Polaris is a missile and a star,
The one deployed on restless submarine,
The other keeping vigil from afar
While nebulae and comets roam between.
Much nearer Earth, the evanescent moon
Maintains her distance from our planet’s face.
Perhaps she senses conflict coming soon,
The Armageddon of the human race.
So warily she orbits overhead.
A quarter-million miles into the void,
She too keeps guard. We talk of peace instead,
Let our guard down. With warheads unemployed,
While newsmen speak of cabinets and kings,
Calamity is waiting in the wings.

Three heavens stretch above Earth’s little pond:
The daylight blue; the midnight’s starry host;
Incalculable distances beyond
These two, the one that modern men fear most.
(For if there is a Heaven they should gain,
A Hell to shun the day they pause to die,
Then all their science simply can’t explain
How in the merest twinkling of an eye…)
So, flippantly declaring it absurd,
Men laugh until their laughter turns to tears;
But Saul of Tarsus visited that third
And dared not speak of it for fourteen years.
If not till set of sun come out the stars,
Why balk at glories waiting behind Mars?

No sooner had the missiles disappeared
Than waves of bombers rose up in their stead.
When all debris and rubble had been cleared,
We found almost a hundred million dead.
And some who lived were maimed, and some were charred,
And some no longer see, or hear, or walk;
And many, although outwardly unmarred,
No longer smile, no longer even talk.
For laughter is a thing of bygone days
When children played at imitation war.
Today most people stare with hollow gaze
Rememb’ring times, once real, that are no more.
When men cried, “Peace and safety,” all was lost.
We were not ready for the holocaust.

(Postscript: V has not come to pass. Thanks be to God. But in our post-9/11/2001 world, it seems all too horrifyingly possible.)

1 comment:

  1. Just catching up on the blogs...interesting reading...you made me laugh...cry...ponder...smile...Love you! I'll try to be a more frequent reader instead of catching up weeks at a time...