Stars and Planets

Stars and Planets
Trees are cages for them: water holds its breath
To balance them without smudging on its delicate meniscus.
Children watch them playing in their heavenly playground;
Men use them to lug ships across oceans, through firths.

They seem so twinkle-still, but they never cease
Inventing new spaces and huge explosions
And migrating in mathematical tribes over
The steppes of space at their outrageous ease.

It's hard to think that the earth is one –
This poor sad bearer of wars and disasters
Rolls-Roycing round the sun with its load of gangsters,
Attended only by the loveless moon.
Norman MacCaig

from The Poems of Norman MacCaig (Edinburgh: Polygon, 2005), edited by Ewen McCaig

Reproduced by permission of the publisher
Norman MacCaig

A poet who divided his life and the attention of his poetry between Assynt in the West Highlands, and the city of Edinburgh, Norman MacCaig combined ‘precise observation with creative wit’,  and wrote with a passion for clarity. 

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About Stars and Planets

This poem was reproduced on a postcard for National Poetry Day 2012. Eight poetry postcards are published each year by the Scottish Poetry Library to celebrate National Poetry Day and are distributed throughout Scotland to schools, libraries and other venues. The theme for 2012 was stars. You can find out more about National Poetry Day in our National Poetry Day pages, where you'll also find resources to go with the poems.