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High-Water Mark

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High-Water Mark

Postby BolusOfDoom » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:27 am

Hello, this is my first post here and my first poem out of the very few I've written so far. I've posted earlier revisions of it to a couple of other sites for feedback, but I think the style and subject matter might be a better fit here. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read it.


High-Water Mark
For the 40th anniversary of Apollo 17


I

Soon after brutal apes were graced
With cunning minds and nimble hands,
We grasped both word and implement
And sought more fruitful far-off lands.

Devising hieroglyph and rune,
We logged the stars and wielded tomes
To guide our craft across the deep,
Subduing wilds to make new homes.

Then clad in fragile armor, we
Assailed the sky and braved the void
Between the Earth and distant Moon,
Man’s highest boundary destroyed.

II

Our race's ardor tried and spent,
With thinning purse and swollen fame
We shunted wealth to mend the poor,
Make well the old, a carnal aim.

We climbed down from our highest mount,
Resigned the goal, shook off its dust,
Surrendered gear as monuments,
Consigning all to moth and rust.

Then christening metallic thralls
To spare our flesh from distant woe,
We coasted shallows in their shade;
Paid absent heed; remained below.

III

In time, a ghost loomed into view
Discerned through artifice of glass;
Grim omen of a monolith,
Far portent of some deadly mass.

With former prowess at its ebb,
We forged new arms to meet the bane
And flung our shafts against the foe,
Contesting blood and home in vain,

For they who gauged the skies foretold
The writ of doom would not be stayed.
Our scruples fled; we furled the law
And sundered oaths; all cried, some prayed.

IV

At last, the mortal blow struck home
To cleave Earth's crust, to cast its plume,
And every vale was made a pyre
Of leaden ash and choking fume.

Bereft of drink, of grain, of kine,
Stark hunger reigned past any ban.
Each set his face against those dear,
Ate brother's flesh, devoured clan.

Dim sunlight shone through fatal clouds
On blasted pillars, fallen thrones,
On mounds of bodies bound in earth,
Souls humbled to mere sums of bones.

Epilogue

If strangers from a far-flung sphere
Should trace and track our trail of wit,
Then sailing to our furthest shore
Would come to find upon it writ

Small furrows dug by dust-shod feet,
Bleached banners of an Earth-ward land,
A fleet exalting ancient gods,
Its headless vessels now unmanned.

If they could solve a distant tongue,
On ancient fragments they would find
Our sentiment made epitaph:
"We came in peace for all mankind."

Sole witness now, this sterile orb,
Proceeding 'round through ageless span-
Bleak herald of the tomb below,
A stone to mark the grave of Man.
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Re: High-Water Mark

Postby Bmat » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:38 am

Welcome to Speculative Vision!

I enjoyed your poem very much. The ghost that was seen, what is this? Extra-terrestrials? Do you think that manned space missions would be more protection against such a threat than robotic missions?

Obviously I found the poem not only pleasing to read but also thought-provoking. :)
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Re: High-Water Mark

Postby BolusOfDoom » Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:35 am

It's an asteroid. I guess I need to revise it to make the image more specific.

I think the basic idea is similar to that of Larry Niven who said something like "The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn't have a space program." Our species needs to live in more than one place. Not putting all your eggs in one basket, that kind of thing.

The original idea that made me want to write it was reading the speech Nixon was supposed to give if the Apollo 11 astronauts were marooned on the surface. If that had happened, it would have created a circling tomb visible from anywhere on the earth. No one would look at the moon the same way again.

Then if you reverse it, say an asteroid strike destroys humanity, you can look at the Apollo landing sites as sort of a cenotaph for the human race, preserved in vacuum for another space-faring species to find later and puzzle over.
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Re: High-Water Mark

Postby Bmat » Mon Sep 09, 2013 1:10 pm

Don't change it just because I didn't catch what it was.

After another re-reading, and with your explanation to help guide me, I feel this is a poem I'll remember.

The idea of a satellite of a planet being the clue to a former species or inhabitants of the planet is intriguing. I can imagine a short story anyway of aliens who land on the moon and see the artifacts there and what they surmise.
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Re: High-Water Mark

Postby Ariel » Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:25 am

That was great! I too really enjoyed this!
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Re: High-Water Mark

Postby nightlock » Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:54 am

The highest praise I can give: I require more of your poetry.

Normally, I don't read poetry. I can't. I have some mental break keeping me from feeling the words and experiencing the poet.
For some reason, your poetry has leaped the gap.
Image

Read New Awakenings

"This is here." :smt104
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Re: High-Water Mark

Postby BolusOfDoom » Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:09 am

Thanks, nightlock. I'll post one more to see if it leaps the gap.
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