Taking Long Views (1887), by May Kendall


Nebula of Stars and Colorful Gas

His locks were wild, and wild his eye,
Furrowed his brow with anxious thought.
Musing I asked him: “Tell me why
You look thus vacant and distraught?”
Sadly he gazed into my face:
He said, “I have no respite, none!
Oh, shall we wander into space
Or fall into the sun?

“Astronomers I’ve sought in tears,
And ah, ’tis terribly remiss
That after all these anxious years
They cannot even tell us this!
Though each man seems to prove his case.
Each contradicts the other one,
And—do we wander into space
Or fall into the sun?”

“Comfort!” I said, “I can’t discern
The nature of our planet’s end,
Nor should I greatly care to learn.
We’ve many aeons left, my friend!
Whether we last from age to age
A frozen ball, or turn to flame,
To me, at this inspiring stage,
Is very much the same.

“Observe Humanity’s advance.
And Evolution’s giant strides!
Remark on what a smooth expanse
The nation’s barque at anchor rides!
The march of Intellect retrace.”
He moaned: “I don’t care what we’ve done.
Oh, shall we wander into space
Or fall into the sun?

“If we should fall, you understand,
Such heat the crash would generate
The solar system might expand
Into its primal gaseous state.
It would be awkward, I maintain,
The same old cycle to renew;
For once let things come round again.
And we should come round too!”

I cried: “The prophecy forbear!
Of finite woes we have enough.
What, travel through the old despair,
Experience the old rebuff!
I’d rather haunt the void Afar
For endless ages, would rejoice
To be a harmless frozen star,
If I might have my choice!”

He gazed at me with aspect strange.
He only said: “How would it be
If this poor planet should derange
The solar system’s equity;
If when the sun our planet met
The sun himself began to fall,
Another system to upset,
And so on through them all?”

“Peace, peace!” I said. “However dark
The destiny the aeons bear,
You won’t be here the wreck to mark.”
He cried: “That causes my despair.
I want to know what will take place,
I want to see what will be done,
Oh, shall we wander into space
Or fall into the sun?

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