If We Had Only Taller Been

You knew a post a day couldn’t last, didn’t you?

Today’s is going to be a short one, because frankly it speaks for itself, and far, far more eloquently and powerfully than I ever could.

So, the landing site on Mars – on Mars, you understand? That’s another planet – where Curiosity touched down has been named Bradbury Landing. I can’t think of a greater honour, really.

I am afraid to say that I have read only one piece of work by the great man (as I have said before, I am staggeringly under-read). This was Fahrenheit 451, which I purchased to read while on holiday two days before he died. I read it on the flight over Corfu, and spent the next few hours in a state of shock. Few things have moved me as much as that story did; I maintain that Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, and 1984 should be on the syllabus for all schoolchildren and adults, everywhere (although I may replace 1984 with Animal Farm, since it is better written). I will be rectifying this, I assure you.

The reason I’m talking about him today is the video below. At the annoucement of the naming, NASA played this video from a symposium from 1971, at which Ray Bradbury recited his poem, ‘If We Had Only Taller Been’.

I will leave you with the video, save only to say that you must, must watch it. I’ve never been much for poetry, philistine that I am, but this. This reached inside my heart and my head and made them both weep.

If Only We Had Taller Been

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 that lie,
That blue that was not really blue.
If we could reach and touch, we said,
‘Twould teach us, somehow, never to be dead.

We ached, we almost touched that stuff;
Our reach was never quite enough.
So, Thomas, we are doomed to die.
O, Tom, as I have often said,
How said we’re both so short in bed.
If only we had taller been,
And touched God’s cuff, His hem,
We would not have to sleep away and go with them
Who’ve gone before,
A billion give or take a million boys or more
Who, short as we, stood tall as they could stand
And hoped by stretching thus to 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 great 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 Will 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!




Have a good weekend. Peace out, y’all.