One evening, walking home from humdrum work,
I saw the starry splash of Venus, Evening Star beloved,
Falling into western fire. A sight so oft´ admired,
Yet admired, this time, in starkly new arresting manner.
Suddenly, in springs of heel and knee,
I felt the Earth beneath me throb and roll,
And knew it for a turning, tumbling ball,
Both vast and yet so very small,
Afloat on fathomless celestial depth,
With heaven´s yawning vaults,
On every side, for breadth.
And in that special moment
Venus´ starry point unwrapped itself into a ball,
As like a sister to this Earth, on which I stood,
And I could feel, as cold, on arms and face,
Just how much of black and empty space
Must be inserted, ´twixt myself and her,
To make her with such tinyness appear.
And then I felt the further wedge of space, that,
Like some gigantic cosmic elbow,
Made the awesome angle
Between her white and pallid fire
And the fearsome yellow fire
Of her dreadful Lord, the Sun, which,
Though unseen, below the ground,
Could still be felt, as if a sound,
Too deep for customary hearing.
The Sun, indeed a mighty star,
Not as mere alleged hypothesis,
But as majestic ball of fire
That I might reach and touch, perhaps,
With godly, flame-proofed fingers.

For that brief and vivid moment
I knew these planets as they truly are,
As orbs contained inside myself.
But then another instant passed and,
With a snap, like the closing of a secret door,
The usual illusions of space were quick restored,
Of small and vast, and near and far away.
Nonetheless, it was a thing, once seen, once felt,
Could ne´er be quite forgotten or ignored.

Copyright © John Ferngrove 2009