Tuesday, 11 October 2011



We have no names,
no epic tales cross checked,
disputed, or distorted
by an antecedent Homer.
So, know not for whom, or when
the first flint arced
to scribe the space
between our savagery
and search for explanation
of the stars.

Yet, it was an act
as small as human hand
on fashioned stone, which
later was to lay red ochre
on the flanks of beasts
depicted, named and known,
as though creation
waited for this dawn
to show how tools
could grow our wonder
into symbols.

How sureness
in our mastery of stone
would one day
break the sky with spires,
and vault the Earth
with shelter
from the face of god.

As hands taught minds
the certainty which
touch bestowed,
we asked first questions
in an extinct tongue.

As muteness waned,
internal spaces grew,
to begin a revelation
which raised Rheims from sand
and sent the sound
of symphonies
to universal ears.

Who first had thoughts to share?
for from this trust
came confidence to tell,
and in the telling
something of the cosmos
was revealed,
shared and made real
by mention of a thought.

As if duration at time zero
deemed it must be thus,
that matter moved, just so
and just so long
as would ensure
that megaliths must be,
and we should mark the passage
of the stars with stones grown
skyward from an instant
in the first event.

In just such seconds as
our physics find too short
for numerals to probe
foundation of our deepest
thought was forged,
as if neutrinos knew
that someday we
would search from them,
and praise creation’s scale
with words determined
in the fire which formed
the stars.

Yet, they required us!
it was our amazement
which made praise a
possible event,
and sent sweet music
far beyond the temples
we had built to house our awe.

Without thought no nucleus
would be.
No angel could expect
the supplication of a
bended knee.
Until the double helix
grew, to such complexity,
that we raised questing eyes,
and voiced the long awaited
which gave the universe a home.


Why the waste?
Why so few minds to
give humanity small windows?

Is there not some reason for our doubt?
When faces promise much, and yet
turn in upon themselves
to cancel history with a quip?
Slowing centuries for priests to rule,
or blinding reason with a tyrant’s tongue.
Where even Alexandrian sacked
and shattered shelves
could shrink infinity with length.
To leave the last librarian
in fear of Alexander’s cowled disciple
paid by us all, to oversee
the infamous destruction of the ending word,
upon the final page,
of the last,
and only book on Earth.

That it shall be,
will rest with the validity
of freedom’s claim, to move
beyond the rules which we devise
to please prediction’s need for growth.
Both first and final thought, perhaps,
determined by addition of one zero
in equations no one comprehends.

Who gave the Universe a name
before our early eyes turned skyward?
Who, shall see the death of suns
as but a small event
and after thought is dead
repopulate the heavens
with majestic beasts?

© James Rainsford 2011

Note to readers: I have posted this previously, but now submit in revised form
This was a long time in gestation. It is one of my longer poems and attempts to tackle some of the most profound questions regarding our evolution and relationship with the complexity of The Universe. I hope it shines at least a pale light upon our long journey from ignorance to awareness and helps in some small measure to clarify our place in the Cosmos.
Your views are most welcome. To record them, please click on the comments tab below.
Kind regards and thanks to all who visit here. James.


  1. A complex, but very satisfying poem. and my hat's off to anyone who tries to explain the cosmos, even to himself. I had many favorite lines, and indeed whole stanzas here-but the ones about the sacking of the Library of Alexandria will stick with me in revolving parallels, and the closing lines are nothing short of majestic. A very fine poem, James--and my great pleasure to read it.

  2. Wow epic write indeed. I think I'm left with more questions than answers. But I can relate to many of them, I think we all have had such questions in one form or another.

  3. This is the first poem I have read of yours, and I am pleased I visited, I really enjoyed this epic poem, the questions, the reflections you make...I read it out loud to my 'Beloved' and he concurred...

  4. Wonderful James. I like the way you elaborate on the theme throughout in both a logical and poetic way, and it surely confirms in my mind and heart that the Universe wasn't formed by a 'big bang' but by Divine and complex order.

  5. wow...very nice james...a well thought through poem....for me the second part is my fav...the libraries and the questions there at the end...and after we have done our darndest to destroy ourselves...will there be a rethought and repopulate?

  6. This is a truly impressive poem, in the best sense-- you take us on a journey with just the right questions and half-answers-- lovely language throughout; I especially loved:

    As if duration at time zero
    deemed it must be thus,
    that matter moved, just so
    and just so long
    as would ensure
    that megaliths must be,
    and we should mark the passage
    of the stars with stones grown
    skyward from an instant
    in the first event.


  7. we do have so many questions... I believe you've expressed many of them... the older we get the more intense the questions become

  8. so many question and such a lovely piece but yes you are right who gave it their names

  9. James, I say your gestation birthed a grand fantasy of man and art manifesting through the ages!

    And of course I always LOVE when Rheims shoots up from the sands of time.

    Cavemen everywhere are now rosining up their bows..

  10. An epic poem that seems state your view well. But I have many questions about human history, and whether it is a linear march of progress or more likely to be cyclical, with great rises and falls. And should the mind be elevated above all while the heart is left behind and seems to trouble us most? And is monotheism likely an advance, or would polytheism be more helpful in addressing the needs of the diverse planetary population we now know? I seem to have more questions than answers, myself. Perhaps the Word was in the beginning, and nothing exists until we name it -- preferably in a poem?!?

  11. An epic poem. Well done. :)

  12. oh wow...this was quite a journey you took us on james...very deep and full of questions...just how life is...think i need a bit time to digest this one..fine write throughout

  13. thanks for bringing this one back james...def it fits the prompt and was nice ot revisit some of the questions it stirred the first time around...hope you are having a great weekend!

  14. You've toured us through the cosmos, asked the tough questions, and our eyes open a little more to the great awakening our species is so desperate for. James...this is fantastic, and will lead more than one reader closer to their's to waking up! (Finally!)

  15. Epic in scope, grand in execution! Your historic sweep has all the elements brought into play to elicit the questions and provide clues for possible answers. I appreciated the questing nature of the rhythm and cadence. It really drew me in to your search for answers. That fact in and of itself is a great feat, since in these types of poems the piet will often simply state their own answers, without the invitation to readers to join her in the search. The poem has a nice historical arc, and I think that it exemplifies why Aristotle thought poetry is more historical than history.

  16. very cool james..remembered it immediately and a perfect fit for the prompt...often philosophy and science seem to go hand in hand..

  17. third time is a charm for this one...ha...but it is one you should be proud of..each rereading has given me another glimpse...the first part of this sent me on ponderings of our development...from our humble beginning to believing we are masters of our own fate...perhaps one day we will be humbled again...smiles.

  18. Well James, this is my new favorite of yours, it seems you posit humanity as the consciousness of the universe, fulfilling the role of questioning, exploring, and ruminating in awe. It was a great joy to read your excellent work.

  19. Wow...another deeply intricate and informative read. This Charles and Anna's certainly offer so many thoughts and opinions and deepest reflections of man's origins and how we may have 'thought' ourselves into being.
    Another amazing read from you James.

  20. Wow...epic poem, James..and worthy of the hugeness of the subject...I much enjoyed reading this and pondering the questions it raised...fantastic work :)

  21. Thanks to everyone for your comments. It's encouraging to know, that even my long and complex poems are appreciated.

  22. James...the first read stood out so in my mind, and I was so excited to see you share it again. Who was the first to brave original thought and lend us a foundation born of myth and fantasy...then who was the first one brave enough to call it wrong and shake us to our core. I'm quite enjoying the discovery of free thinking without the weight of ingrained dogma...imagine if this caught on! So many paths to ponder here...and I will touch on them all before I'm done! ;) God speed Poet, and again, a million thanks and more for your support

  23. This is like the sky and to quote myself "it's all there is, and all we'll ever know". Majestic, superlative, encompassing and amazing work!

  24. I'm so glad you reposted this tonight, James--it was good to read it again and I know I found things I missed the first time through--especially the earlier portions about the power of the word, and the stone spires to 'vault the earth/with shelter/ from the face of god.." a perfect here marriage of intellect and muse.

  25. This is very powerful in the reach it strives for and the marks it hits. You have woven together many strands of historical, archeological, and anthropological facts to create an admirable account of human ascent and perhaps its demise as the universe sputters out. HUmans have so much potential and that comes through in your account.

  26. Deep and thought provoking post...I like how you assembled the pieces to fit a puzzle, yet not fully answering the question in the end...A labor of love...thanks for sharing it ~

  27. This poem is so expansive that I don't think any comment contained in this box would do it justice. This is one of those poems that should be thought of and considered and digested.

  28. This was so deep- asking such questions that i don't think i can adequately begin to express their significance. the one part in here that really spoke to me was the following:-

    vault the Earth
    with shelter
    from the face of god

    This spoke very clear to me- about the nature of mankind- and teh way we have placed ourselves outside of the world we are symbiotically related too. We think we are more than we are- and thus to be seen as 'sheltering' hiding from God is vvery abt, whether metaphorical or not. Maybe its our fear of mortality that makes us bury our heads in teh sand this way. james- this was just...huge....and brilliant

  29. A strange and strangely attractive poem, I found. For me there were passages which seemed to be based in logic, though the meanings that seeped out appeared otherwise inspired.

    and just so long
    as would ensure
    that megaliths must be,
    and we should mark the passage
    of the stars with stones grown
    skyward from an instant
    in the first event.

    for example. There are several such, and I found them tantalising, mystifying and rewarding.

    I shall have to return when I have more time to spare and have another read.


If you wish your views and opinions to be published here, please be polite and respectful. I welcome feedback on my work and will try to respond if you take the trouble to post a comment. Thanks for visiting 'The Sanctum of Sanity.' Hope you enjoyed the experience, James.