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Distant scintillating star,
Shall I tell you what you are?
Nay, for I can merely know
What you were some years ago.
For, the rays that reach me here
May have left your photosphere
Ere the fight of Waterloo—
Ere the pterodactyl flew!
Many stars have passed away
Since your ether-shaking ray
On its lengthy Journey sped—
So that you, perhaps, are dead!
Smashed in some tremendous war
With another mighty star—
You and all your planets just
Scattered into cosmic dust!
Strange, if you have vanished quite.
That we still behold your light,
Playing for so long a time
Some celestial pantomime!
But, supposing all is well.
What you're made of, can I tell?
Yes, 'twill be an easy task
If my spectroscope I ask.
There—your spectrum now is spread
Down from ultra-blue to red,
Crossed by dark metallic lines,
Of your cooler layer the signs.
Hence among the starry spheres
You've arrived at middle years—
You are fairly old and ripe.
Of our solid solar type.
Ah, your sodium line is seen
Strongly shifted toward the green.
Hence you are approaching me
With a huge velocity!
But, if some celestial woe
Overtook you long ago,
And to swift destruction hurled
Life on every living world,
Did there in the fiery tide
Perish much of pomp and pride—
Many emperors and kings.
Going to do awful things?
Mighty schemes of mighty czars—
Mighty armies, glorious wars!
From the Nebula they may
Rise to curse a world some day!
|G. M. Minchin.|
|From Nature of April 11, 1898.|
- Balnibarbi is one of the countries visited by Gulliver; the "Glumtrap" is the Balnibarbian equivalent of the English nursery; and the babies of Balnibarbi are brought up on strictly scientific principles—as is evidenced by their knowledge In these verses.