Harmony of the Spheres


This is an old poem of mine – my one and only attempt at a sonnet. The subject is the medieval idea of the harmony of the spheres, a timeless universe centred on the Earth, with incorruptible heavenly bodies contrasted with death and decay among us and heavenly music.


They thought the stars shone from a sphere

Where nothing changed, death was unknown,

Eternal calm looked down on fear,

Lust, greed and rotting flesh and bone.

The stars were strung like diamond beads

On heavenly secrets’ velvet drape

But we below could only dream

Through pictures, words and creeds

How music gave the world its shape

And reeled in time’s chaotic stream.

Now this old picture is a wreck

And astronauts have not picked up

Music on a computer check

Or God’s blood in a plastic cup,

Now that we’ve learnt that change is good

And life is long, and pleasure stays,

We do not need the crystal spheres.

Correctly understood

A yearning for that world betrays

A fear of life, a life of fears.

We know they lived in fear and pain.

Who would not swap the Holy Grail

For wiping out a smallpox strain?

Heaven’s a light along a trail

And not a warlord’s massive tower.

Our flesh is not a shameful thing.

But when we let the old boat go

And slip from place and hour,

Perhaps the stars will seem to sing,

Perhaps the stars will seem to grow.

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Leave a comment


  1. Bravo. I’m so glad you tried the sonnet.

  2. I love this – the whole idea, and some of the lines sing to me too, especially your last ones…beautiful… thank you

  3. Thanks, both. In general the sonnet is too controlled a medium to suit my way of writing, but I’ll probably try again.

  4. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words

     /  March 22, 2014

    I think you should do more Sonnets
    I like this one, especially…
    “The stars were strung like diamond beads
    On heavenly secrets’ velvet drape”

    Thank you for sharing..I really enjoyed it….
    Take Care…You Matter….

  5. Thanks, Mary Rose.

  6. What wonderful imagery here, Simon!

  7. Thanks, Christy. I have had another go at a sonnet, but I arrived at 14 lines and felt unhappy about the ending, not something I could fix by changing the last line, so I thought, “What’s holy about 14 lines?” and added a 15th, rhyming. I’ll post that some time.

  8. Beautiful and profound!


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