Poetry by D.W. Walker

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Discord of the Spheres

Pythagoras proposed that each of the Sun, Moon and planets
Emits a unique hum as it moves in its own circular orbit,
Harmoniously blending into the Music of the Spheres.
But we can't hear it,
Because we were born with that sound in our ears
And so have never experienced real silence.
But thinking about the Solar system as we know it now,.
Is it really music, or more like the sort of white noise
That we screen out when we live on a busy road?

Thousands of bits of rock and ice, big and small,
Hang out in three clouds beyond Neptune,
The Kuiper Belt, the Scattered Disc, and the Oort Cloud,
Ducking in and out on elongated orbits.
Pluto was the first scapegoat,
Deplanetised because its eccentric orbit created dissonances
Not acceptable from a respectable planet.
It was rapidly joined by its Trans-Neptunian mates:
Eris, the Greek god of strife and discord,
Typhon, Chaos and Rhadamanthus,
Deucalion, Ceto and Logos,
All labelled as dwarf planets
As they sound their own dissonant notes.

But the Greeks didn't pinch all the names.
The anti-Pluto Orcus, locked in an orbit mirroring Pluto's,
Is the Etruscan god of the underworld,
Joined by Arawn, king of the Welsh underworld realm of Annwn
Varuna, the Indian god of water and of immortality
Haumea, the matron goddess of Hawaii,
Huya, the rain god of northern Columbia
Praamzius, the Lithuanian god of the sky, peace and friendship,
And the Inuit sea god Sedna, whose elongated orbit goes so far out
There are arguments about which cloud it belongs to.

Add to them an off-key chorus of creation gods,
Like Quaor, from Los Angeles,
The Australian Altjira, from the Aranda tribe,
And Makemake from Easter Island,
Not forgetting Borasisi from Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle,
And Tolkien's Varda and Manwe.

It's not that much less crowded closer in.
Okay, the planets are supposed to have cleared out their orbits,
Except for the odd Trojan in a stable location sixty degrees ahead or behind,
But most of the offending objects were chucked out, not absorbed,
And are still hanging around in extended orbits as comets or meteors,
Or like the Centaurs,
A kind of cross between a meteor and an asteroid,
Clip-clopping aimlessly between Neptune and Jupiter,
Doomed to fall into some nearby planet.

Near Eatth, it's no less noisy.
Above the bass drone
Of the microwave background from the Big Bang,
The howl of the solar wind,
The ssssss of passing comets
And the whistle of meteors,
There is the threatening growl of the near-Earth asteroids,
Diving towards us, then sheering off,
As we wonder when we will be the next dinosaurs,
Though they'll need to hurry,
Or we might beat them to it,
Leaving them to waste their spectacular impacts
On a lifeless, unnoticing desert,
Creating at last a true silence,
As with noone to hear,
An orbiting planet makes no sound.

David Walker

Copyright D.W. Walker, 2017


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