From 634-647 A.D., Queen Sonduk ruled the Silla Kingdom (to become Korea) as the first of three female rulers. One of her lasting achievements is the "Tower of the Moon and Stars," reputed to be Asia's first observatory. The tower still stands in Kyongju, South Korea.

Cheomseongdae, Tower of the Moon and StarsTower of the Moon and Stars:
What wondrous names to spark my fancy!
Sprung from a steady flame of wisdom,
The glory of the stars themselves.
When I was a child,
I learned to discover things
By logical deduction:
When China sent new seeds,
I knew the odorless peony
By a bee-less painting.
My father announced I should rule after him:
And when the Silla males died away,
My life became that flame.
I have nourished the sparks of education,
Tried to fan the flames to the people,
Sent out scholars in pursuit of the pure star Truth.
I am Queen Sonduk;
I have built an observatory
Which will outlast me,
Symbol of the continuance of wisdom,
Marker to the heavens:
A Tower of the Moon and Stars.
What wondrous names to spark my fancy!

Copyright © 2009, Lyn C. A. Gardner

Image Credit: Christopher Buchanan, some rights reserved

Lyn C.A. Gardner has fiction, poetry, art, and articles in venues like Challenging Destiny, The Doom of Camelot, The Leading Edge, Legends of the Pendragon, Mythic Delirium, Not One of Us, Raven Electrick, Strange Horizons, Talebones, and more. She coedits the journal Virginia Libraries and is a 2004 graduate of Clarion West. Visit her at www.gardnercastle.com.