Rachel Hadas

To Urania
October 3, 2012 Hadas Rachel

To Urania


Astronomer who rules the tides and skies,

the stars and planets: when we lift our eyes

what strikes us is the vastness of your space.

Down here below in our familiar place,

we lead our lives, we scuttle through our days

barely aware of you.  At night we raise

our gaze to your domain.  It’s then we praise

your discipline, your rigor, and your logic,

as you conduct the heavenly spheres, majesti-

cally wielding gravity’s black wand.

Oh guide us through the star-fields and beyond,

far past the ash-heaps of mortality

and toward the outskirts of infinity.

Lead us along the spheres’ bewildering path

through unguessed wilderness.  I catch my breath

at darkness specked with tiny dints of light

pricked in the paper as I sit and write.

Urania, queen of heaven’s harmony,

scan this offering with a cold eye.

Oh mistress of deliberate revision,

the highest laws demand the most precision.

Rachel Hadas is the author of many books of poetry, essays, and translations, mostly recently poetry collection “Ghost Guest” (2023) and her translation of  Book 16 of Nonnus’s “Tales of Dionysus”, a rollicking epic from the diaspora of late antiquity (2022).  She recently retired from Rutgers University-Newark, where for many years she was Board of Governors Professor of English.