Today, the Etown English Department interviewed a candidate for the position of Literature professor.
He turned out the lights. He asked us to close our eyes and imagine a starry sky. I distinctly saw, felt --you can't smell... It's too cold for smell-- the brisk evenings my brother and I spent together, peering through the bright red reflecting telescope we bought at K-Mart. The store was moving, so we got a deal after harranguing the salesman for an afternoon. We didn't have much money, but what a victory! Mom fought desperately for that telescope every inch of the way. We bought my desk at the same time, not knowing it is a hulking triplane that lumbers precariously through my bedroom door only at odd contortionist angles. I love it to death. I fear removing it will be the death of me.
Outside, we pointed the laser-sight Tel-Rad to the heavens and squinted at our Audobon Guide to the Night Sky in the glow of our battered, corrugated aluminum flashlight with red cellophane scotch-taped over the end.
We saw Mars, Venus, and Jupiter. I will never forget viewing the great Eye for the first time with my own eyes.
I need to pull out the old girl sometime. She's not Hubble, but it's a marvel to see a little upside-down view of the Universe.
The candidate introduced me to a great poem by Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743-1825). Here are some excerpts. I'll try to post the whole thing later
To tread the hallow'd circles of your courts,
And with mute wonder and delighted awe
Approach your burning confines. Seiz'd in thought
On fancy's wild and roving wing I sail,
From the green borders of the peopled earth,
And the pale moon, her duteous fair attendant;
From solitary Mars; from the vast orb
Of Jupiter, whose huge gigantic bulk
Dances in ether like the lightest leaf;
To the dim verge, the suburbs of the system,
Where cheerless Saturn 'midst her watry moons
Girt with a lucid zone, in gloomy pomp,
Sits like an exil'd monarch: fearless thence
I launch into the trackless deeps of space,
Where, burning round, ten thousand suns appear,
Of elder beam; which ask no leave to shine
Of our terrestrial star, nor borrow light
From the proud regent of our scanty day;
Sons of the morning, first born of creation,
And only less than Him who marks their track,
And guides their fiery wheels. Here must I stop,
Or is there aught beyond?
Fascinating use of the word "suburbs". It's amazing how easily language can change.