Larkin: on nature

First Sight

Lambs that learn to walk in snow
When their bleating clouds the air
Meet a vast unwelcome, know
Nothing but a sunless glare.
Newly stumbling to and fro
All they find, outside the fold,
Is a wretched width of cold.

As they wait beside the ewe,
Her fleeces wetly caked, there lies
Hidden round them, waiting too,
Earth's immeasurable surprise.
They could not grasp it if they knew,
What so soon will wake and grow
Utterly unlike the snow.



Tops heel and yaw,
Sent newly spinning:
Squirm round the floor
At the beginning,
Then draw up
Like candle flames, till
They are soundless, asleep,
Moving, yet still.
So they run on,
Until, with a falter,
A flicker - soon gone -
Their pace starts to alter:
Heeling again
As if hopelessly tired
They wobble, and then
The poise we admired
Reels, clatters and sprawls,
Pathetically over.
- And what most appals
Is that tiny first shiver,
That stumble, whereby
We know beyond doubt
They have almost run out
And are starting to die.

Explaining Relativity - Rebecca Elson

Forget the clatter of ballistics,
The monologue of falling stones,
The sharp vectors
And the stiff numbered grids.
It's so much more a thing of pliancy, persuasion,
Where space might cup itself around a planet
Like your palm around a stone,
Where you, yourself the planet,
Caught up in some geodesic dream,
Might wake to feel it enfold your weight
And know there is, in fact, no falling.
It is this, and the existence of limits.
(received from an astrophysicist this morning)


Ginsberg: Poem Rocket

Extracts from 'Poem Rocket'

This is my rocket my personal rocket I send up my message


Someone to hear me there

My immortality

without steel or cobalt basalt or diamond gold or mercurial fire

without passports filing cabinets bits of paper warheads

without myself finally

pure thought

message all and everywhere the same

I send up my rocket to land on whatever planet awaits it

preferably religious sweet planets no money

fourth dimensional planets where Death shows movies

plants speak (courteously) of ancient physics and poetry itself is manufactured by the trees

the final Planet where the Great Brain of the Universe sits waiting for a poem to land in His Golden pocket

joining the other notes mash-notes love-sighs complaints-musical shrieks of despair and the million unutterable thoughts of frogs


The moon over Imperial College and a brilliantly lit planet.....

Larkin: Solar

Suspended lion face

Spilling at the centre

Of an unfurnished sky

How still you stand,

And how unaided

Single stalkless flower

You pour unrecompensed.


The eye sees you

Simplified by distance

Into an origin,

Your petalled head of flames

Continuously exploding.

Heat is the echo of your



Coined there among

Lonely horizontals

You exist openly.

Our needs hourly

Climb and return like angels.

Unclosing like a hand,

You give for ever.

Philip Larkin 

- from High Windows

Larkin: any-angled light

If I were called in

To construct a religion

I should make use of water.

Going to church

Would entail a fording

To dry, different clothes;

My litany would employ

Images of sousing,

A furious devout drench,

And I should raise in the east

A glass of water

Where any-angled light

Would congregate endlessly.

-- Philip Larkin

Rebecca Elson - 'Girl with a Balloon'

From this, the universe

In its industrial age,

With all the stars lit up

Roaring, banging, spitting,

Their black ash settling

Into every form of life,


You might look back with longing

To the weightlessness, the elemental,

Of the early years.


As leaning out the window

You might see a child

Going down the road,

A red balloon,

A little bit of pure Big Bang,

Bobbing at the end of her string


Note: Most of the helium in the universe was created in the Big Bang.

Rebecca Elson was an astrophysicist and poet.