Martin Robertson

Now and Then


Between Orion and the Bear

the buoy-lights of the planets float

marking the charted darkness where

(a channel for the silver boat,

the golden boat) the Zodiac

threads the constellated black.

These sparks, I know, are world or sun

varyingly vast and from a vast

difference of age and distance spun

out of the chasm of depth and past—

but surely no less truthfully

age-traced patterns on a domed sky?

A heavier darkness, dull as felt,

creeps up across the pattern, damps

then blots the sword, the studded belt,

Betelgeuse and the clear lamps.

Suns burn, worlds spin unhindered on.

This veiling is our earth’s alone,

The cloud is climbing on my sky.

Star after loved star vanishes,

and these no breeze shall by and by

uncurtain unchanged to my gaze,

since they are dead and I am old.

The night is trackless, deep and cold.