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.
HARMONY OF THE SPHERES
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.
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.