Poem: "Our Little Back Star" by Sam Walter Foss

Our Little Back Star, by Sam Walter Foss.

Oh, we do fairly well on this little back star,
This world in the suburbs of space
Though we’re out here alone and we hardly know how
To get our belongings in place.
We’ve no other models to which to conform
And we think for a young and a little back
We have done nigh as well as we can.
And so we abide here with things as they are
In our cosmical suburb, our little back star.

‘Tis mostly unfinished, our little back star
(Takes time for a world to get made),
And the building of worlds is involved in delay
Not known to the carpenter’s trade.
“Tis not the best possible star?” No, not yet;
Takes time to build worlds, I repeat.
And the long, long design of its architect’s plan
Is a few billion years from complete.
And we hardly can guess what the finished worlds are
In the unfinished state of our little back star.

There are noisy complaints of our little back star,
There are voices upraised that are loud;
And there’s much that is said that is nigh to the truth
By the lips of the querulous crowd.
There is much that is lacking in justice and truth,
There is more that is lacking in grace;
So our little back star with its querulous freight
Whirls on through the suburbs of space.
And the great frontward stars from their stations afar,
In silence look down on our little back star.

Oh, the great frontward stars may be eons ahead
Of our little back star in the race,
But the simple, sole thing for a star and a man
Is to look their own fate in the face.
There’s a long race ahead for our little back star,
And failures and flouts not a few,
But perhaps in a score of a thousand of years
We may grow up a Shakespeare or two.
We are bound on a journey that stretches afar,
There’s a long course ahead for our little back star.

Our little back star rolled on with its freight,
In the crude, early years of its prime,
With wallowing monsters that sprawled in the sun,
And dragons that weltered in slime.
Let the voices upraised that are loud in complaint
Still swell from the querulous crew;
but out little back star travels on knowing well
What a few million ages can do.
So some in wise silence are gazing afar
Down the long distant path of our little back star.

–by Sam Walter Foss
Cornell University Library.

[See article about Sam Walter Foss]


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