Poetry: 20 July 1969 AD by Eamon Lynskey

A new work to mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landing

Buzz Aldrin (L) on the moon, July 20th, 1969. Photograph: Reuters/Neil Armstrong/NASA/

Buzz Aldrin (L) on the moon, July 20th, 1969. Photograph: Reuters/Neil Armstrong/NASA/

 

“May the spirit in which we came
be reflected in the lives of all mankind

When we pressed our footprints on your crust
we trod on centuries of endless yearning,
long fragmented into silvery dust,

O Queen of Tides

remembered snatches of old songs and rhymes
addressed to you by poets who disturbed
your tranquil seas with sad, despairing lines

Nightfarers’ Guide

and when we walked the pock-marked desert plains
our mediaeval ancestors believed
were gouged to show the murderous shape of Cain

Translucent Lantern

and sank our probes into your soil to gauge
was Beatrice right to hold the dark spots equal
to the bright and not more dense or rare,

Latona’s Child

and sent back images of figures lumbering
towards a distant hill where high beyond
the outline of a dry horizon’s rim

Apollo’s Kin

we saw our troubled homeland poised above us,
viridescent oceans veiled in cloud,
and felt this day must herald Pax Lunaris.

Eamonn Lynskey’s collection It’s Time was published by Salmon in 2017