The Ballad of the Spaceman’s Woe
You’ll never know what you can do
Until you crack that sky of blue
And feel the dark space ‘wash of you
You’ll never, never know.
And in that vast sidereal sweep
Your old star bucket’s cosmic creep
Will take you to strange worlds and reap
The commerce that they grow.
Of iron and ore there is no dearth
Or metals all for what they’re worth
To build fleets for Imperial Earth
The giant ships a’row.
And if there should be anyone
From Pluto’s rim to farthest sun
Who doesn’t like what we have done
They know where they can blow.
For Earth’s Galactic Empire knows
No combination of her foes
Who could our great Grand Fleets oppose
Out in the ether flow.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
A spaceman’s life is hard indeed
Without there ever being need
For war with any alien breed
To give the spaceman woe.
There was a time when we were told
The new transstellar drive would hold
A warp in space that we could fold
From here to there, like so.
And then what did those Brass Hats do?
They said, “That’s just the thing for you
And on these ships your jolly crew
Can sail forever!” Oh.
And that’s the reason why, you see,
No farthest nook of space is free
From our inquiring scrutiny
Above or down below.
But I would rather take my tuck
Aboard a creaking freighter truck
Than try a Flying Dutchman’s luck
Oh moan the spaceman’s woe.
On Ganymede I met a chick
Build like a certain house of brick,
‘Twas then I said, “Right here I’ll stick
And never, never go.”
And right there I set up my shack
And would have stayed until the crack
Of Doom, but I was shanghaied back
Oh, hear a sailor’s woe.
Oh, bend an elbow, lend an ear
And gather round so all may hear
The story of a life so drear
Oh hear the spaceman’s woe.
A thousand years are but a day
Asleep aboard the “Cosmic Ray”
And so we snooze our years away
Such is the spaceman’s woe.
And if we die out in the deep
There’s none to wail and none to weep
Our bones are in dry space to keep
Oh hear our tale of woe.
Or if we’ve been too long in space
We foul our jets and then they place
Us in a ship for Earth, Prime Base,
And tie us up like so.
But after one year in the crate
We’re glad to grab a sky bound freight
To let our nerves recuperate
Oh hear the spaceman’s woe.
And when our rest has just begun
The long haul transgalactic run
Will need replacements, everyone,
And off again we’ll go.
And what will this time be our fate?
A robot brain to navigate
To make of us more meteor bait
Oh play the dirge strains slow.
Or else we’ll foul on piracy
As cruel as ever on the sea
They’ll hull us with incendiary
And out our air will blow.
In sagas of the spaceways old
The tale of woe is often told
About the ‘A-CH-ING hero bold
In days of long ago.
Who streaked his racing comet where
The methaned moons of Jupiter
Could grab him by his shortened fur
And end him up a glow.
And that is why ’tis often told
“There’s heroes old and heroes bold,
But heroes bold are never old.”
Oh drown our tale of woe.
— Grady L. McMurtry
Note: Originally published in Thelema Lodge Calendar, May 1994.