The Icarus Project

The Icarus Project

High Altitude Ballooning

A poem by Elvis McGonagall

Flight of Fancy

Tethered to earth by gravity’s guy-ropes
Trudging out from primordial sludge
Sleepwalking down the years in deep-sea divers’ boots
Nose to the grindstone we endlessly drudge
Oh would that we could fly like Icarus (but without his wings of wax)
To ascend unto the heavens like a beautiful balloon
Up, up and away above the cloud-capp’d steeples
Oh to soar above the sun and put a girdle round the moon
To hover over stars as bees to flowers in a garden
To clutch the floating firmament in outstretched hand
To drift like thistledown across the boundless universe
To see the world as a tiny grain of sand
To behold the bigger picture, to watch our planet fade from view
To wonder why we keep its petty pace
A bright blue spinning dot in a kaleidoscope
Lost in time and space
To feel how flimsy is the fabric of Man’s pageant
How slight every worry, every grievance, every care
To realise that “Wayne’s Sprained Ankle Pain” will not be front page news
on Mars
To hear each passing frenzy’s empty echo in the air
Then to gently drop deflated from such dizzy, giddy heights
Back with a bump to our daily, earthbound strife
To know we can but only laugh at this glorious, cosmic joke
And breathe in deep this fleeting moment we call life

by Elvis McGonagall for “BBC Radio 4 Saturday Live” 3/4/2010

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