When I was born, one hundred years from now, In a half-forgotten city back on Earth, What planetary travel would allow Of visits came to celebrate my birth. The interstars were then first going forth, And went with such excitement and such hope, It was said a life was like a jewel in worth; And mine was blessed and deeded with the scope To know infinities – their time and space and slope.
My life has spread as wide as I desired When first my childish wonderings were drawn To worlds, and were by arcs of stars inspired. I know all the directions I have gone As widening orbits seen in every dawn Like dreams returning; my deep thoughts still glow With auras of the planets each was born. My seed are further still, and surely know Their race immortal, and how we came to make it so.
A thought arose about the human place In the limitless, -- rose long before my time -- The species rich in destiny and space And risen in multitude from works of mind. That thought was older than the solar wind But lacked for voices, ‘til a hero came, And a growing band to chant it for mankind; Outcast they were, none bearing any fame But for the thought itself, the exalting of its name.
And they, that sang the songs of human powers, Still lead our voyages, although long passed. Two centuries from now, I spend my hours, Knowing well that these will be my last, Imagining the instruments, so vast, Our future kind will play upon with ease -- My thoughts race, but they cannot go thus fast. The heavens for me are hung with memories, The stars and planets charmed, like lights on boundless seas.
But long, long years I have not seen the sight
That on Earth alone would spread across the sky
At dawn of day, and at the set of night --
The sunset, sweet reward for thoughts most high,
And lovely robe of grief for hope gone by
When the afflicted race on Earth had cause to weep;
The sunrise, when its glory in the eye
Awoke the slumbering spirit from the deep
Foreboding cave of night, to scale the ruins of sleep.
Now sounds our race’s coming history
As far-off music over water flies --
From greatest distance still its power is free,
A sweet voice wrapped in echoes and disguise --
And yet the art to sing it is the prize!
The cities back on Earth’s Moon turned a key,
Their rough and sudden beauty made us wise.
I would revisit them again to see
The golden renaissance in which I came to be.
Around the familiar star we’ve always known
The familiar planets still run in their traces;
But I see the orbits that they do not own,
By watching them from far, far distant places.
So tides move channels, though no wind has blown.
So you deny a change that none can see,
But the far, far-sighted ones who watch alone,
Whose long-imprisoned thoughts once were set free
To justify my birth, come another century.
Paul Gallagher is a poet, translator and also an economics journalist. He has spent much of his life fighting for the revival of classical poetry and classical culture. More of his writings on culture can be found here.