Eternal Silence

When I was a child, I made a cannon out of a lipstick tube         
mounted on a wooden carriage, stuffed it with gunpowder
from a penny banger and fired a volley of nails at the shed door,
and I believed the noise I made had ascended into heaven.
Many years later, I wrote a poem about children shrieking
in a playground; I had their shrieks splashing round
the towering cliffs of sky whereas I should have had
them petering out at the cordon of spectating houses.
For I believed sound travelled through the Earth’s
atmosphere and carried on forever into deepest space,
so eventually someone would hear our prayers
and send succour, except it has not happened yet.
In fact, it doesn’t happen, I was wrong to believe it.
Sound does not travel past the Earth’s atmosphere,
so no-one hears our voices at the far end of belief.

But all is not lost, after aeons of terror, such as Pascal’s,
of the eternal silence of the infinite expanses of space,
for there are indeed sounds of buzzing activity emanating

from millions of celestial bodies, noises hurtling through
the vacuum, captured as radio waves to be deciphered
for believers to latch onto and turn into winsome stories.

© Nemo 2020
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critique and comments welcome.
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Well argued Gerald but we must point out that Pascal said he was terrified because “I fill engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces whereof I know nothing, and which know nothing of me.” Had he known what progress would be made in astronomy regarding radio signals from space intercepted by various observatories, including Jodrell Bank, his assessment may have been different.
Best, Luigi


What I have added, Gerald, is Pascal’s own words. The way I see it, Pascal was not terrified of eternal silence per se but because he didn’t have and yearned for knowledge of the universe. Regardless of this he believed in God. (see the pragmatism in his wager). You say, “Until recent times nobody would have known that the universe wasn’t immersed in total silence.” but that is exactly what I said in my comment. The belief of the existence of a deity has been there before the discovery of of noise from space and, if anything, people might be… Read more »


Thank you for this interesting poem, Nemo. It is actually an interesting line of thinking. Whether or not those sounds do somehow get into space (I believe the thoughts behind them do, at least) they may, in theory, continuously reverberate and diminish in inverse proportion to time (or distance, as do radio waves). Of course, it would be fanciful to imagine being able to somehow build an apparatus to detect and tune into the speech of some long distant departed soul… but there are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, as is evidenced by passing time! 😉 These things… Read more »


Hi Nemo, “…you believe thoughts can exit the Earth’s atmosphere and enter space? I can’t see how that is possible.” I believe that thoughts are a creative energy that are not bound by the constraints of the physical. Each to his own, eh? I have used the nom de plume for more years than I care to remember! Yes, it was based on the French (where I now reside) and was a concoction. As far as I remember when I first thought about it, I considered using an ‘eur’ ending, but not doing so made it less attributable to its… Read more »

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