An Astronomer Poet

The Lobster Nebula Seen from the Hubble Telescope

It’s an unusual combination, but it sat well on Rebecca Elson’s shoulders. She was at one and the same time an astronomer and a poet. Unfortunately, she died young at the age of 39 with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I learned about her from Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings blog.

Canadian Poet and Astronomer Rebecca Elson

Antidotes to Fear of Death

Sometimes as an antidote
To fear of death,
I eat the stars.

Those nights, lying on my back,
I suck them from the quenching dark
Til they are all, all inside me,
Pepper hot and sharp.

Sometimes, instead, I stir myself
Into a universe still young,
Still warm as blood:

No outer space, just space,
The light of all the not yet stars
Drifting like a bright mist,
And all of us, and everything
Already there
But unconstrained by form.

And sometime it’s enough
To lie down here on earth
Beside our long ancestral bones:

To walk across the cobble fields
Of our discarded skulls,
Each like a treasure, like a chrysalis,
Thinking: whatever left these husks
Flew off on bright wings.


Serendipity: Books and Brain Pickings

“A Marvellously Noble and Transcendent Chimera”

“A Marvelously Noble and Transcendent Chimera”

I do not follow many blog sites; though every once in a while, I find one that is superb. Such is Brain Pickings, which I have now included among my links.

The following observation on reading comes from Hermann Hesse’s My Belief: Essays on Life and Art, by way of Brain Pickings:

The great and mysterious thing about this reading experience is this: the more discriminatingly, the more sensitively, and the more associatively we learn to read, the more clearly we see every thought and every poem in its uniqueness, its individuality, in its precise limitations and see that all beauty, all charm depend on this individuality and uniqueness — at the same time we come to realize ever more clearly how all these hundred thousand voices of nations strive toward the same goals, call upon the same gods by different names, dream the same wishes, suffer the same sorrows. Out of the thousandfold fabric of countless languages and books of several thousand years, in ecstatic instants there stares at the reader a marvelously noble and transcendent chimera: the countenance of humanity, charmed into unity from a thousand contradictory features.

A Book of Essays I Will Have to Read

A Book of Essays I Will Have to Read

Good books lead everywhere, but especially to places worth going.