Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Goodbye, Arthur C. Clarke (1917 - 2008)

There is something poetic about the exploration of the stars, planets, moons and dust clouds in space; the Horse's Head Nebula or nearer home the planets Mars and Venus or the moons of Jupiter. Man dreams of journeys to the centre of the Milky Way, and perhaps beyond.
Poet-in-Residence today pens a poem to Arthur C. Clarke, 'the prophet of the space age', author of more than 1,000 articles and 100 books. By a strange quirk of fate under a paragraph about self-fulfilling prophecy in 'Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds!' (pub. Voyager 1999, taken from an earlier piece for the Sunday Telegraph, 'The Twenty-First Century: A Very Brief History'), Clarke penned the mysterious sentence: Check me for accuracy - on December 31, 2100. Alas, 2008 already canceled.

Goodbye, Arthur C. Clarke
By walls of cities not of Earth
All my winged dreams have run,
And known the demons that had birth
In planets of another sun.
- Lord Dunsany

The Close Encounter was always possible
when you were here
with us
or so we felt -
but now you've gone
and perhaps
our hopes have gone with you.

Somewhere in Dunsany's Universe
we try to imagine you
greeting H. G. Wells and other entities
with open arms
speaking the common parlance
of several universes
comparing telescopes
and peering through them
for intelligent life -
back here on Earth?

Somewhere beyond our outpost - that rock
where our tractor is stalled
and pointing its rundown electronics
at the incomprehensible -
is where we imagine you to be

The few of us shall keep alight
for our space of time
those embers of hope
you planted in our hearts
when you were here with us -
the thoughts that someone or some thing
somehow would come
from out the vastness
to visit us
to join us in our odyssey
through the dust and stars
or at least to say 'hello'.

Arthur C. Clarke, we wish you well
and we scan the high horizon.

It was good of you to call.

c- Gwilym Williams (19 March 2008)


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