Friday, May 2, 2014

Star Stuff

Though my soul may set in darkness,
it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly
to be fearful of the night.
~Sarah Williams

I've experimented before with poems made out of speeches or novels. This time I used something that Cosmos' Neil deGrasse Tyson said:

Origins (a found poem)
Neil deGrasse Tyson

There is
a fundamental reason
why we look at the sky
with wonder
and longing—

for the same reason
that we stand,
hour after hour,
gazing at the distant swell
of the open ocean.

There is
something like an ancient wisdom,
encoded and tucked away in our DNA,
that knows its point of origin
as surely as a salmon knows its creek.

we may not want to return there,
but the genes know,
and long for their origins—
their home in the salty depths.

But if the seas
are our immediate source,
the penultimate source
is certainly the heavens…
The spectacular truth is—

and this is something
that your DNA has known all along—
the very atoms of your body—
the iron, calcium, phosphorus,
carbon, nitrogen, oxygen,

and on and on—
were initially forged
in long-dead stars.
This is why,
when you stand outside

under a moonless, country sky,
you feel some ineffable tugging
at your innards.
We are star stuff.
Keep looking up.

Neil deGrasse Tyson
photo by Bruce Press

Katya at Write.Sketch.Repeat. is the Poetry Friday host today.

Addendum: I'm sorry, I didn't make it clear that I didn't change Mr. Tyson's words. That is what he said -- I just added the line breaks so we could look at it a different way and spend time with it as a poem.


Catherine said...

I love everything about this post, Tabatha! Neil deGrasse Tyson is such an inspiration, I can see how you would find poetry in his speech. And the way you crafted your poem! It's a gorgeous reminder of how connected we are to, well, everything! Thanks so much for sharing.

Ruth said...

Thank you for this! Star stuff - I love it.

Linda B said...

It's like a speech about wondering, Tabatha. When we take the time for observing and listening to our thoughts, we find new ideas. It's a lovely connection to Tyson's words. I imagine he would enjoy seeing it!

Tara said...

LOVE these lines:
"This is why,
when you stand outside

under a moonless, country sky,
you feel some ineffable tugging
at your innards.
We are star stuff.
Keep looking up."
For, who among us is not in love with star gazing?!

Liz Steinglass said...

Lovely. He's a treasure. I've been enjoying watching Cosmos with my kids.

Buffy Silverman said...

Wonderful poem. Now I want to read Neil deGrasse's text that you used as a source!

laurasalas said...

Lovely! The lines between poetry and prose are so blurred, at times. I like your arrangement of his words.

Violet N. said...

Good for you for noticing what he said was the stuff of poetry. The line breaks cause us to slow and pay closer attention. It really is a poem!

GatheringBooks said...

I just love the exact same lines that Tara just cited. I love what you've done with the speech, transforming it into poetry with line breaks. This made me smile today and filled my heart. :) Thank you, Tabatha!

Mary Lee said...

Brilliant! (no pun intended!!)

I love the way you sculpted his already poetic words. Great choice of source material!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

He speaks truth. Looking at it in this way just makes it easier to see somehow. Thanks-- I enjoyed spending time with this poem.