Saturday 16 November 2013

Day 484: Space


After seeing the film 'Gravity' a few nights ago (the one about two astronauts alone in space) I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. Space, that is. The big blank vastness of it. How unknown it is, and how much we want to know about it. How perilous it is and how beautiful. How it is nothing and how it is everything. And how it is a metaphor and a musing, as the film is, for so many aspects of life, especially existential ones.

It's hard to find any poems about space, but luckily, I have this one by the brilliant Alice Oswald to turn to. A sonnet about Nasa's Spacecraft Voyager, all the more relevant now, after it became the first man-made object to enter interstellar space in September of this year. But is the poem only about that? What is the space, full of 'Deep Silence' she is referring to?

Seeing as this poem is the one that closes her collection 'Woods', preceded by a few blank pages, I can't help but think of it as an ode to writing, to poetry. To feeling out and filling up that 'Deep Silence' that is the mystery of life, the 'steep flights of blackness' with 'massless light' of poetry that is illuminating, but not as tangible as other things. What do you think? Or maybe it's about journeys, all kinds, even our last one, death. Whatever it is, I love how the whole poems hangs there, punctuation-less in the blank space of the page. And everything hovering towards its last word: flight, not tethered by a full stop but suspended there, freely.

I don't know, but like space, the not knowing is intriguing! Once again, another instance of the beauty of poetry - it can be whatever you believe it to be. A bit like space, too.

Sonnet - Alice Oswald

Spacecraft Voyager 1 has boldly gone
into Deep Silence carrying a gold-plated disc inscribed with
it has bleeped back a last infra-red fragment of language
and floated way way up over the jagged edge
of this almost endless bright and blowy enclosure of weather
to sink through a new texture as tenuous as the soft upward
    pressure of an elevator
and go on and on falling up steep flights of blackness with
    increasing swiftness
beyond the Crystalline Cloud of the Dead beyond Plato beyond
O meticulous swivel cameras still registering events
among those homeless spaces gathering in that silence
that hasn't yet had time to speak        in that increasing sphere
of tiny runaway stars notched in the year
now you can look closely at massless light
that is said to travel freely but is probably in full flight

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