If Only We Had Taller Been by Ray Bradbury (1971)
The fence we walked between the years
Did balance us serene
It was a place half in the sky where
In the green of leaf and promising of peach
We'd reach our hands to touch and almost touch the sky
If we could reach and touch, we said,
'Twould teach us, not to, never to, be dead
We ached and almost touched that stuff;
Our reach was never quite enough.
If only we had taller been
And touched God's cuff, His hem,
We would not have to go with them
Who've gone before,
Who, short as us, stood as they could stand
And hoped by stretching tall that they might keep their land
Their home, their hearth, their flesh and soul.
But they, like us, were standing in a hole
O, Thomas, will a Race one day stand really tall
Across the Void, across the Universe and all?
And, measured out with rocket fire,
At last put Adam's finger forth
As on the Sistine Ceiling,
And God's hand come down the other way
To measure man and find him Good
And Gift him with Forever's Day?
I work for that
Short man, Large dream
I send my rockets forth between my ears
Hoping an inch of Good is worth a pound of years
Aching to hear a voice cry back along the universal mall:
We've reached Alpha Centauri!
We're tall, O God, we're tall!
November 1971. NASA’s unmanned space probeMariner 9 had launched earlier in the year in May and had just successfully reached Mars.
To celebrate NASA’s success, Ray Bradbury amongst other famous faces (Including Arthur C. Clark and Carl Sagan) convened at NASA’s Jet Propulsion labs in Pasadena.
There, Bradbury shared his lyrical ode to space travel. A poem that he described as the one that“sums up my feelings on why I love space travel, why I love science fiction, why I’m intrigued with what’s going on this weekend at Mars”.