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We Astronomers

Rebecca Elson (*)

We astronomers are nomads,
Merchants, circus people,
All the earth our tent.

We are industrious.
We breed enthusiasms,
Honour our responsibility to awe.

But the universe has moved a long way off.
Sometimes, I confess,
Starlight seems too sharp,

And like the moon
I bend my face to the ground,
To the small patch where each foot falls,

Before it falls,
And I forget to ask questions,
And only count things.

"A responsability to awe", Oxford Poets, Carcanet Press (2001)
 Copyright: Estate of Rebecca Elson; Anne Berkely and Angelo di Cinto

(*)Rebecca Elson (1960-1999) was an astronomer and poet. In Cambridge, she was my first teacher in the post-graduate astronomy classes, in the winter of 1998-99, but I never got to really know her, she died of cancer that same year, aged 39. It was only after the publication of her posthumous book of poetry "A responsability to awe", in 2001, that I discovered how gifted a poet Rebecca was. I offer this little hommage of mine to the memory of her brilliant verses.


Last Modified January 2014.