Many years ago, I bought a copy of the Doctor Who tie-in book The Monsters by Adrian Rigelsford and Andrew Skilleter. I still have the copy, though it’s showing signs of wear and the jacket is lost. Anyway, one of the introductory pages features the poem “I could not sleep for thinking of the sky” by John Masefield, for which I composed a tune and have made several attempts to record it over the years.
Update: Replaced with new recording, 2017.
There are variations of the poem with slightly different words, but the version from The Monsters is the one that inspired me, so that’s what I’m sticking to. It doesn’t matter if Masefield’s original is slightly different. I’ve reproduced it below so that you can sing along.
I could not sleep for thinking of the sky
The unending sky, with all its million suns
Which turn their planets everlastingly
In nothing, where the fire-haired comet runs.
If I could sail that nothing, I should cross
The silence and emptiness, with dark stars passing
Then in the darkness, see a point of gloss
Burn to a glow, and glare, and keep massing
And rage into a sun with wandering planets
And drop behind; and then, as I proceed
See his last light upon its last moon’s granites
Die to a dark that would be night indeed.
Night, where my soul might sail a million years
Is nothing, not even death, not even tears.
26 Aug 2009 at 2:34 am
That’s a lovely poem. I hadn’t seen it before – thanks!
26 Aug 2009 at 11:56 am
You’re welcome, and yeah, it’s a strong candidate for being my all-time favourite sonnet.
23 Dec 2010 at 10:34 am
I love this poem, it’s so beautiful. I first saw it posted around my college as part of an inspirational thing, where students posted poems around college for others to read.
It makes me think of how huge existence is and of all the endless possibilities the future could hold for us. It also reminds me that I’m just tiny a part of something much greater. This doesn’t stop me thinking of all the things that are available for me and the things I could do, though.