The Exile


Shrouded deep in cloud and ice
The purple planet spun
Through crimson days and violet nights
Around a golden sun.

Running low on lithium
And limping in from Deep
We saw her shining like a gem
And men began to weep

For joy to think they soon would feel
A world beneath their feet,
Swap walls of antiseptic steel
For squalls of methane sleet.


The Captain called for volunteers;
The shuttle boats were stuffed
With boffins, brass and engineers -
And I alone was left.

I watched them dwindle through the black
Their thrusters dim and die.
I knew then none were coming back,
No need to question why.

A cripple raised in zero-G
Aboard the Albatross,
I never had my own patrie -
Why should I feel the loss?

With limbs too frail and skin too fair
And heart unfit for stress
The greatest burden I may bear
Is endless emptiness . . .


I've wandered through the starry fields
Like wind through meadow grass
And dreamed among those pollen worlds
Beyond this plexiglass;

I've seen fair fields and frozen wastes
And tideless seas of sand,
And seen the folded mountains traced
In wrinkles on my hand;

I've seen the midnight cities shine,
Their noon-bright towers gleam,
And dustmote ships around them climb
In dusk's declining beam;

In many skies I have beheld
The dancer Dawn appear
And hurl upon the rims of worlds
His many-coloured spear;

So many beauties, all distinct
And each a siren song . . .
But lonely voices call to me
And I must journey on

Entombed aboard the Albatross
With Night for casket-pall,
The freeman of a million worlds -
An exile from them all.