Poem of the week: Sermon (for the Burial of Cassini) by Ella Frears – Telegraph.co.uk

Posted: June 13, 2020 at 2:52 pm

Theres a bittersweet nostalgia to the idea of space travel. It still comes foil-wrapped in the imagery of the 1960s: remember the future, how shiny it used to be?

The recent SpaceX launch inspired worldwide headlines partly because manned missions have become a rarity. These days, if we want to see the universe, it makes more sense to send our eyes ahead of us.

To study Saturn, for instance, the Cassini probe travelled almost five billion miles, sending back nearly half a million images before reaching the end of its 20-year life in 2017. Life is, of course, the wrong word. But its tempting to imagine that something of our adventuring spirit did live in that little gatherer of science, indifferent photographer of the dark sublime, as Ella Frears calls it here.

A burial sermon for a bit of soulless tech could seem silly, just as a prayer in faith of the evidential might sound like a contradiction in terms. But in the hands of Frears whose first collection was this week shortlisted for a Forward Prize its strangely moving. Science and spirituality are often set at odds, but this poem captures the way the grandeur of space can inspire a feeling akin to religious awe.

The poems form (prose tightened into a thin rocket of a column), and its prayerlike voice are both daring choices, yet precisely engineered to fit its subject. I cant imagine a better send-off.

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Poem of the week: Sermon (for the Burial of Cassini) by Ella Frears - Telegraph.co.uk

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