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Lay for the Day
10th August

1675: the foundation stone is laid for the Royal Greenwich Observatory, whose position marks the Greenwich Meridian, the zero of longitude, where West meets East.
From the book of Praises:

46. Of Summer Constellations

We go outside to find them,
by a bike-lamp’s shadowed rays
reading both the map and sky,
though less than half the points are
there the chart would have us see,
dissolved in the orange haze.
I remember as a child
the torch-beam dissolving up
into nowhere, signalling…
The Swan, the Lyre, the Eagle –
at the few we trace and name
we stare as our kind always
have and, finding fixed stars, taste
presences identified
and faced at last, their gleaming
Arabic names – Altair and
Vega, their reputations
for luck or evil waiting
for us to raise a finger,
absorb their emanations.
Is this intelligence they
send us, or our own returned,
ancestral ages falling
on our new, starstruck faces,
what people have gazed and felt?

John Gibbens
from Collected Poems

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar