(08/06/1943) Voyager

Out of the star enshrouded night it fell,
A battered derelict that space had maimed,
Its hull a twisted wreck, its power tamed,
And of its crew no living soul to tell.

Space dry and thin the rigid mummy sits
And marks a vigil only death may keep;
What endless night, what weary age of sleep
Has he kept sentinel? No lip admits.

That was a golden age, that world carefree
When men stood foursquare on the crust of Urth
And threw their challenge to the stars; with mirth
They swore to conquer all infinity.

So armed with courage knowledge would deny
Their fragile bulbs of steel wire launched to float
Across the shallow solar gulfs, where bloat
Strange moons and planets in a crowded sky.

And then with knowledge astronautic gained,
With fire atomic as a willing slave,
Upon the silent God of Night they gave
An offering of ships, and men ordained.

Of men imbued with zeal the mystics know
Who manned those mighty ether ships that fell
Like pebbles dropping down an endless well
Until they came to alien suns where glow

The incandescent vapors multihued,
Where toxic gasses burn with tourquoise light
Or smash the space-time contin’um with white
Heat from a hellish dwarf, where planets brood

Like peering eyes that stare upon the doomed;
And from those new worlds of the starlit seas,
From island nebulae, from galaxies,
From burned-out suns whose glory once illumed

Weird destinies. Here cosmic engineers
Set colonies along their orbit runs
Till navies filled with commerce of the suns
Bore fruit of conquest, for those pioneers

On the high sea of interstellar space
By trellised lace of orbit lines, and force
That binds each star and planet to its course
Had welded fast their empire. But the race

Of humankind had changed as aeons passed.
No longer was the man of Urth supreme,
But cosmopolitan, had lost his dream,
And though he stood where wealth of knowledge massed

Had thrown his outposts to the chasmed lip
That marks the lightless, ultimate abyss
Beyond which shore no beacon sun may hiss
Or sibilate in silence, yet the whip

Of manly strength that was his heritage
Sank deep and fallow, while his gnarled machines
Were given to the task, and thoughtless means
Of mindless android monsters who for gage

To measure used no human eye that scans
But walked in darkness shadowed by the length
Of instruments prehensile to strength
Of electronic solenoids, where spans

The rippled muscles of a force that spoke
The unleashed power of atomic might
Stripped from the glowing nucleus, where bright
And hot the whiplashed positrons are broke

Against bedrock neutronium, but soft,
Effeminate and poised the progeny
Of space tanned mariners where dark debris
Who bloated on the ebb tide, for aloft

The tentacles that spread to integrate
With calculus logistical the plan
That was to be the Monument to Man;
A universe of virile peace, a state

Omnipotent of matter, held decay
And back the tide rolled, back across the years
Of light and peace, back down the trail of tears,
For empire is not won within a day

But must be purchased by the blood of those
Who dream the Greater Dream, and who would die
While searching in the archives of the sky
For knowledge that was placed beneath the Rose

So long ago, back to its place of birth
It slowly ebbed, and then along the sands
Of outpost planets it has washed, rough hands
Colonial were set against the Urth

And Chaos ruled. So came the Tongueless One
To walk the empty spaceways, and to grin
With his huge imbecility, at men
Beat down into dust and, beaten, shun

Their heritage. And now from Urth is seen,
When with a slow, majestic sweep begun
Each eventide at setting of the sun,
The Wheel of Stars parading down the screen

Zodiacal, the constellations lost,
The solar systems, fertile worlds, and rocks,
The frigid planets, and the flame swept locks
Of guardian keeps on Mercury. The cost

Was paid in treasuries of energy
Extraneous, and toil and sweat and thought
Of terrene life to barren planets brought,
Ten billion New Worlds in immensity.

And now the old Urth, like a jeweled hag,
Her gemmed cities bright against the breast
Of umbrial shadows draped across the West
From shoulders of the senile hills that sag

With weariness that ages slow erode,
Has gathered her ephemerae to dwell
In cities sealed and domed with crystal shell,
Here sits the Elder Brethern, here they bode

In vaulted halls to weigh the Cosmic Plan
By symboled logos, and as worlds set free
Launch each a space-borne fleet to destiny,
They comprehend the All; this was our Pan!

— Grady L. McMurtry
8/6/43 e.v.

Note: Originally published in Thelema Lodge Calendar, May 1992.