Last Page of my comics version of this poem -- scratchboard

Last Page of my1995 mini-comic version of this poem

I wrote the poem below in 1989, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the first moon landing.  The original only had six stanzas; the other four (from “The cheese they say” to “My head on the point of one pole”) were added later, circa 1995 when I produced a mini-comics version of the poem.  Edward Lear’s “Owl and the Pussycat” was the inspiration for the image in the first stanza and for the anapestic meter (unstressed syllable – unstressed syllable – stressed syllable).  The “tiny blue marble” is a reference to an old EC comic book story, “Marbles,” drawn by Bernie Krigstein – I used to own the original art work to that story, but I recently sold the last few pages I had.  The theme of the poem is clearly the loss of our fantasies in the wake of our scientific and technological accomplishments.  But I do hope no one takes the poem so seriously as to read into it an indictment of the Apollo moon mission or a denial of the romanticism of man in space that, if you are of a certain age (and I am, I must admit, of that age), could not but be a telling part of one’s youth.  When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon and looked back into the heavens at that “tiny blue marble” we call home, the human race inherited new fantasies and new desires which we can only hope will make up for the sad but inevitable death of the poor old man in the moon.

The Man in the Moon

In an oyster shell
They first set sail
On a beam of elegant lace—

Like a dizzy top
That went hippety-hop
To get from this to that place.

And the first that stepped
Like a babe he crept
On the face of the silver balloon—

One step he took
In a leap that shook
The man who lived in the moon.

The cheese they say
Of the coming day
Is brittle and not very sweet,

But the cheese of the moon,
Like the cheese of the loon,
Is the essence that modern men eat.

“Jump!” said the man.
“I’ll jump—if I can—
“To the tiny blue marble below.”

“It’s spinning so fast
“I’m likely to dash
“My head on the point of one pole!”

And I heard him say
In an arrogant way
As he fell from his lunatic height

That he cared nought for reason,
Or changes of season,
Or the monthly coming of night.