Poetry Friday: The Glass Universe

“For me poetry has always been a way of paying attention to the world.”
~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~

Confession: I worked on four or five poems last night, attempting to wrestle one of them into shape to share today. No luck. A rhyme wouldn’t work in one, the details weren’t there in another. Finally, I decided to sleep on it. But before I went to sleep, I read a few pages of Dava Sobel’s The Glass Universe, a fascinating account of how a small group of women working at Harvard University at the turn of the last century uncovered and catalogued ground-breaking discoveries about the stars. Sobel’s writing is masterful and poetic, and as I read one passage, I found a haiku hiding in her prose.

a river of stars,
the Milky Way spills across
the night’s horizon

By Steve Jurvetson (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Please be sure to visit Irene Latham at Live Your Poem for the Poetry Friday Roundup.


18 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: The Glass Universe

  1. A river of stars, indeed! Sometimes those poems just aren’t ready to settle… words like monkeys jumping on the bed! You are wise to give them a little more time. Sounds like a good book to spend some quality time with! xo

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  2. Very lovely indeed! I’ve been paying attention to “found poems” (in fact that is what my post for this #PoetryFriday is about). This is the first one I’ve seen in haiku form. One of the rare benefits of a red-eye flight on a crystal clear night is the feeling of closeness to the the Milky Way.

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  3. Dava Sobel’s books are ao interesting, and what wonderful words you found. I love that “night’s horizon”, Catherine. Best wishes on the other poems. Sometimes they just don’t “go”.

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  4. Gorgeous, Catherine. I, too, love the idea of night horizon. I was blessed a couple of weeks ago with the opportunity to go hear Ms. Sobel speak at Harvard’s Observatory and see the actual glass plates. Amazing! I’ll be reading the book over break next week. Come to Cambridge and you can see it all, too! 🙂


  5. What a beautiful haiku! Isn’t it amazing when we set our knitting aside and do something else? I’ve been working on a poem this morning and it’s just not coming together. So, I’ve decided to read 3 PF contributions, get up and do some cleaning. I know…..that poem will be at work in my brain as I do that. I love hearing your process toward this crisp, clear river of stars…..spilling. And, I’ll bet those other poems knit together at some point.


  6. Some days are like that. You find a poem, and it feels easy after struggling on something else for hours. Sometimes you just can’t force it. Makes me sympathetic with my kids who have far less choice than I do what to write about, being in public school and having assignments. I love being free to choose. They will get there one day, too.


  7. Love your found haiku–a gift that grew out of your struggle. I expect you’ll find resolutions for your other poems, too, if you haven’t already. I’m going to have to read THE GLASS UNIVERSE. I read Sobel’s GALILEO’S DAUGHTER and found it quite intriguing. Love the image you picked, too.


  8. I’ve had the joy of being in rural Eastern Colorado several times this year, and each time as I look up, I have marveled at the Milky Way…very little light pollution makes it look just like your haiku!


  9. Being married to an astronomer, I know the muse can be a powerful force for them. Often, what they *do* is all about data, but what they *love* are the “pretty pictures”—how the data takes shape on the page in graphs or photographs. You’ve certainly painted a pretty picture with your haiku.


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