Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Hidden Sun

The Old Ships
I have seen old ships sail like swans asleep
Beyond the village which men still call Tyre,
With leaden age o'ercargoed, dipping deep
For Famagusta and the hidden sun
That rings black Cyprus with a lake of fire;
-copied from here.

"...the balloons...swelled high enough to catch the light of the hidden sun and shimmer with it."
-Poul Anderson, Tales Of The Flying Mountains (New York, 1984), p. 48.

We compare Anderson's Tales not only with other future histories but also with a poem by James Elroy Flecker.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Considering what enthusiastic fan he was of the works of Rudyard Kipling, something nautical from one of Kipling's poems would also be appropriate for an Anderson story.


    1. Sean:
      "We must feed our sea for a thousand years,
      For that is our doom and pride."

      — from a Kipling poem titled "The Song of the Dead".
      Anderson had a character quote this in the final pages of *The Enemy Stars* ... and I just learned that book was originally published under the title *We Have Fed Our Sea_*.

      Quoting Wikipedia:
      "The poem refers to the British sailors who have died at sea in their efforts to give England mastery of Earth's oceans, and Anderson discerned an analogous sacrifice that will be made by Terrans in their efforts to reach the stars."

      The first time I read the poem, or rather the final three-stanza section from which PA quoted, I was "inspired" to write a close paraphrase which I titled "In Defense of the Terran Empire." Fear not; I won't inflict it on anyone here. But that it provoked ME to attempt poetry, even half-plagiarized poetry — well, that should hint at how I was shaken and stirred.

    2. Kaor, DAVID!

      Now THESE were very interesting comments of yours! I even looked up these verses of Kipling in both THE ENEMY STARS and RUDYARD KIPLING'S VERSE: DEFINITIVE EDITION. Those were chilling and stirring verses indeed. They call us to serve a cause greater and higher than our petty concerns: in our case the urgent need to get OFF this rock!

      I noticed how old Magnus Ryerson said near the end of THE ENEMY STAR: "For no people live long, who offer their young men naught but fatness and security." And I agree, mere personal and individual safety is not enough, a society needs something greater than that. Loathsome and vile tho fanatical Islam is I can see why so many Muslims are jihadists, it's a cause they believe greater than themselves.

      I don't want Christians to become like that, however! The tradition that the state should not control religion or be merged with religion is something to cherish. So, besides defending our best Western/Christian values we should also open up new frontiers, to offer the coming generations something greater than mere "fatness and security." First the Solar System, then the stars!

      And I'm very interested to know you made attempts aw writing poetry, such as "In Defense of the Terran Empire." If it doesn't embarass you too much, could you send it to me privately, using my email address?

      When Poul Anderson died in 2001, I read many tributes to him, including some verses. One poem I read was of how an Imperial messenger came to Dominic Flandry to inform him of Anderson's death and how Flandry grieved for his friend's passing.

      Wish I could find that poem again!


    3. Sean:
      I have to ask, then: What IS your e-mail address?

    4. Kaor, DAVID!

      Oops. I should have included that in my previous note: Seanmbrook@aol.com.