The History of Cosmology

by Lori Ann White

Star Chart from Harmonia macrocosmica by Andreas CellariusIn the days of many gods
Who walked as men and spoke with men,
The night held fewer stars—
Scattered, silent, cold.

Men tamed the fallow earth,
And sought by light of mind alone the Truth.
Men touched the hem of Grace
While stars remained unknown.

Sparks beyond the reach of time and prayer.

Gods watched in alarm
As men spent each night in worship and in awe.
But not of gods. Of—sparks,
Stealing their devotion.

Divine new sparks appeared,
Named for heroes, monsters, lovers, foes,
Each hated, loved, despised.
Familiar, welcome, known.

Hercules, brave Perseus, Berenice and her hair—

To no avail. The many
Gods gave way to three or one or none at all.
Universe as clock, wound by an
Absent maker's key

Men named the southern stars
In salute to their own cleverness.
Immortalized their tools,
Made a hero of a fly

The clockmaker's assistant kept exotic birds as pets.

Now men peer deeper still,
Chase dog and compass, river, crown and hare
From out their thrones.
Men name stars what they are

Pulsar, giant, dwarf.
Neutron, diamond, burned-out cinder.
Reality more fabulous
Than heroic tales of old.

The question comes: Is God now moot? Or God now men? If not, then when?

Copyright © 2005, Lori Ann White

Lori Ann White is originally from sparsely populated Idaho, with its lovely dark skies and horrible politics. Now she lives in the SF Bay Area, where she trades the stars at night for daytime sanity and wonders if it's worth it. Since she can't see anything but neon and streetlights after dark, she writes speculative fiction. Some of her work has appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, and Polyphony 3. She does not consider herself a poet.

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