Though I gave up on the latest Brian Cox TV offering (for heaven’s sake, enough with the background music, just show us the pictures and let the man talk) I am in general fascinated by anything to do with cosmology, especially the search for alien life, and if there is one thing I would like to live to see it is the resolution of that most fundamental question: are we alone in the universe? Rationally I’m not sure why this should exercise me so: after all, the discovery of life on some far distant planet seems unlikely to make much difference to my own, and there are wonders enough on earth I still know little about. Call it, maybe, the last rays of pure curiosity from the setting sun of my mind. At any rate, this week I offer my own somewhat pessimistic take on the matter.
Consider how they move, the galaxies,
Through the ocean of night like driftnets
Dragging deep space, though nothing we know is there
To be caught in that radiant star-knotted mesh.
Consider how they pass through one another
Like ghost armadas: let the stars be ships
A million miles apart: still that belittles
The loneliness of those bright galleons.
Consider light: by that same token see
A snail track silverthreading black Saharas
Between the stars, yet nothing anywhere
Outpaces that immortal messenger.
And then consider: who shall know us, what
Companion us: in all the shadowed room
What hands might cup this candle, flickering
In time’s wind, in the vast forever dark.