Poetry Friday: “The Universe in Verse”

“Poetry can break open locked chambers of possibility…”
Adrienne Rich

On the eve of a new year, one that already has too many expectations heaped upon it, I look to the stars, where limitless possibilities dwell…

timeless starlight
illuminates winter nights
with ancient stories

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

Photo by m wrona via Unsplash

I was unsure about the final line of my haiku and undecided about sharing a post today, but after I stumbled upon this treasure from Maria Papova at Brain Pickings, my indecision was gone. I hope you enjoy this poetic celebration of “great scientists and scientific discoveries, and a protest against the silencing of science and the defunding of the arts.”

Here is one of my favorites from a stellar line up of poets.

by Diane Ackerman


As our metal eyes wake
to absolute night,
where whispers fly
from the beginning of time,
we cup our ears to the heavens.
We are listening

on the volcanic lips of Flagstaff
and in the fields beyond Boston
in a great array that blooms
like coral from the desert floor,
on highwire webs patrolled
by computer spiders in Puerto Rico.

We are listening for a sound
beyond us, beyond sound,

searching for a lighthouse
in the breakwaters of our uncertainty,
an electronic murmur
a bright, fragile I am.

Read the rest of the poem here.

Here’s to a  New Year full of possibility. Please be sure to visit Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

16 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “The Universe in Verse”

  1. There’s just something so comforting about looking up at the stars and realising that the universe that we are a part of has been around longer than we can imagine, and will continue to exist long after we are gone. We are a part of a great chain of existence that links past, present and future. Oh dear, I seem to be waxing poetic myself a bit, that’s how much you’ve inspired me! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a celebration of poetry and science (which have so much more in common than people realize). It reminds me of a NYT article I read about a scientist who rediscovered passion for science by writing and sharing science haiku. I’m glad you shared yours today–and all month on twitter.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “As science continues to pour bucketfuls of light into the dark corners of our world.” What an awesome poet and wonderful reading. Thank you so much for the words and the experience. I’m so glad that science and poetry are as seamless as they are. There really shouldn’t be any differentiation between the two.
    Ancient stories is a crisp last line to timeless starlight. Nicely done!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Diane Ackerman’s poem…wow. Thank you for the gift of The Universe In Verse. I’ve saved this post for a time when I can properly savor all of it.


  5. Wow wow wow–so much to discover here, both in the single poem of Diane Ackerman and in the video program. (In fact maybe too much–I clicked through to BrainPicking’s “7 Loveliest Children’s Books” post and found that Maria specializes in overthinking. Made me feel positively zen.) I love your haiku and its last line–so primally true.

    Wishing you a gorgeous and productive 2018, Catherine, and looking forward to more of your thoughtful uncertainty and willingness to persist in the service of just the right word!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The ‘snow’ falling makes your night picture full of falling stars! Love that “timeless starlight” and Ackerman is a favorite writer, though I don’t know her poetry. It’s beautiful, too. Thanks for the Popova link. Time to step up for science!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Well serendipity stepped right into the small universe of Poetry Friday–as Diane shared a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, and Maria Popova in the video, mentions Rachel Carson quoting Wilcox, “to sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men.” Thanks for sharing this amazing video, the Ackerman poem and your beautiful and provocative “ancient story” haiku!

    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

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