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Lines inspired by a lecture on extra-terrestrial life

Filed under: Harmonic analysis, Science humor — Travis @

– J. D. G. M.

Some time ago my late Papa
Acquired a spiral nebula.
He bought it with a guarantee
Of content and stability.
What was his undisguised chagrin
To find his purchase on the spin,
Receding from his call or beck
At several million miles per sec.,
And not, according to his friends,
A likely source of dividends.
Justly incensed at such a tort
He hauled his vendor into court,
Taking his stand on Section 3
Of Bailey “Sale of Nebulae.”
Contra was cited Volume 4
Of Eggleston’s “Galactic Law”
That most instructive little tome
That lies uncut in every home.
“Cease,” said the sage, “Your quarrel base,
Lift up your eyes to outer space.
See where the nebulae like buns,
Encurranted with infant suns,
Shimmer in incandescent spray
Millions of miles and years away.
Think that, provided you will wait,
Your nebula is Real Estate,
Sure to provide you wealth and bliss
Beyond the dreams of avarice.
Watch as the rolling aeons pass
New worlds emerging from the gas:
Watch as brightness slowly clots
To eligible building lots.
What matters a depleted purse
To owners of a Universe?”
My father lost the case and died:
I watch my nebula with pride
But yearly with decreasing hope
I buy a larger telescope.

From The Observatory 65, 88 (1943).

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