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Star poetry

Nature volume 457, page 32 (01 January 2009) | Download Citation

Dark Matter: Poems of Space

By  &

  Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation: 2008. 208 pp. £8.50 190308010X9781903080108

The Very Small Baseline Group Convenes at The Cat and Fiddle

by Neil Rollinson


A groaning table of empties makes up  our Very Small Array — a barley-scented  interferometer. Here we can study the cosmos  and drink. We tune in to the microwave sky:  to the froth at the edge of the universe.  We sup in the dusk, everything glows  with its own light: the hedgerow, lawn,  the atoms inside the glass. The Milky Way  sings in a half-inch of Guinness  a song of distant past when the world  was a moment old. We gather it all in our mugs,  in a pub garden on the edge of the moors,  looking down on Jodrell Bank: Queen  of the red-light district, cocking her huge lug  to the mayhem beyond our patch.  The bats are in on it, hunting in ultrasound,  catching moths in their fangs, while frogs  bark in the meadows, one to the other,  a vast unfathomable love-song. I finish my pint  and add my glass to the phalanx: the more we drink  the clearer we see, as any old soak will tell you.  I tip back my head to look at the Pleiades  and tumble, arse over tit, into the damp grass.  I lie in my cups under the bling of the northern sky.  I can hear it now, I can see it all clearly,  all and nothing, just the whole sky blazing.

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    Poets paired with astronomers have created 16 new poems, including this one, that form part of a collection of 100 poems about the wonder of the Universe.


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