Thursday, September 15, 2011

"The Star's Impulse Must Wait For Eyes To Claim It Beautiful"

I presume that most of us have had thoughts similar to those expressed by Louis MacNeice in "Star-gazer" (which appeared in my previous post).  I am wilfully ignorant of science, but the idea of starlight travelling through the ages to arrive here before our eyes is of interest to me as a mortal.  The thought that tonight's starlight left its various homes untold years before I was born is wonderful, sad, and somehow comforting.  As is the thought that starlight leaving its homes tonight will arrive here untold years after I am gone.

Likewise, the possibility of some sort of connection between time-travelling starlight and love is of great interest.  Even though it is not scientifically provable.  This, of course, is the business of poetry.


The radiance of that star that leans on me
Was shining years ago.  The light that now
Glitters up there my eye may never see,
And so the time lag teases me with how

Love that loves now may not reach me until
Its first desire is spent.  The star's impulse
Must wait for eyes to claim it beautiful
And love arrived may find us somewhere else.

Elizabeth Jennings, Poems (1953).

                                     Robin Tanner, "The Plough" (1973)


Fred said...


I was stumped as to the title until I remembered, unless I'm mistaken, that was another name for The Big Dipper.

Stephen Pentz said...

Thank you for dropping by again, Fred. I had the same experience as you when I first encountered the engraving -- it took me a while until that name came back to me.