This poem, by Christina Rossetti, is for anyone who looks up at the stars and feels insignificant, overwhelmed, but fascinated by the enormity of the night sky. At night, when you can think deep thoughts, De Profundis, about your place in the universe.
BY CHRISTINA ROSSETTI
Oh why is heaven built so far,
Oh why is earth set so remote?
I cannot reach the nearest star
That hangs afloat.
I would not care to reach the moon,
One round monotonous of change;
Yet even she repeats her tune
Beyond my range.
I never watch the scatter’d fire
Of stars, or sun’s far-trailing train,
But all my heart is one desire,
And all in vain:
For I am bound with fleshly bands,
Joy, beauty, lie beyond my scope;
I strain my heart, I stretch my hands,
And catch at hope.
The poet looks up at the sky in awe. The stars attract but are inaccessible. Even the moon, which is close and therefore less interesting is out of reach to the earthbound human.
Reaching out to the stars symbolises hope and aspiration and human optimism. It has inspired generations of astronomers, scientists and engineers to push the limits of human achievement, such that humanity now has a tiny toehold of experience and knowledge beyond our own planet.
I like to think that poets, and poems such as this, have played a part in this great adventure.
The Poetry Dude