Wednesday, November 2, 2016

I heard the thin gnat-voices cry, Star to faint star, across the sky.

Thank you internet and Wikipedia. From fifteen or so to perhaps twenty-five, I read all or most of the work of John Wyndham, most famous for his science fiction novel, Day of the Triffids.

Among his books is The Outward Urge. Good enough, but it was not a particular favorite of mine. Most of his work was more a fusion of science fiction and speculation in the realms of sociology and psychology. The Outward Urge was more traditional hard science sci-fi.

However, there was a short introductory couplet or dedication of some sort which stuck with me for years. I did not have a copy of the book and it is relatively hard to find. All I was left with was something to do with small gnat voices calling from star to star. I have searched a number of times in the past fifteen years but for the longest time, I came up empty-handed despite the realm of internet data ever expanding. It has, till now, been still too obscure.

However, I just did a search and now have the answer. In fact a couple of answers.

The couplet was:
I heard the thin gnat-voices cry,
Star to faint star, across the sky.
Beautiful.

I am not sure I ever knew at the time but it is from a Rupert Brooke (another favorite of mine) poem, The Jolly Company.
The Jolly Company
Rupert Brooke

THE stars, a jolly company,
I envied, straying late and lonely;
And cried upon their revelry:
"O white companionship! You only
In love, in faith unbroken dwell,
Friends radiant and inseparable!"
Light-heart and glad they seemed to me
And merry comrades (even so
God out of heaven may laugh to see
The happy crowds; and never know
That in his lone obscure distress
Each walketh in a wilderness).
But I, remembering, pitied well
And loved them, who, with lonely light,
In empty infinite spaces dwell,
Disconsolate. For, all the night,
I heard the thin gnat-voices cry,
Star to faint star, across the sky.

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