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heavenly mews: a summer solstice poem?

June 23, 2008

Readwritepoem this week suggests revising a poem and posting the original and the revision. With the summer solstice and sunny days, this prompt reminded me of a project from last spring where I wrote a poem based on two articles I read on yahoo news; I played with it a little today before I posted it and will add a rough draft later (tonight? tomorrow?) I have also included the original articles and a 14 second you-tube which shows but doesn’t sing! For more poems, you might also take a ride on the Monday Poetry Train!

Heavenly Mews: Baptism by Fire

Our Sun sings, astronomers say
even if we can’t hear it
even if we don’t hear it
looping magnetic fields
along our Sun’s corona
carry magnetic sound waves:
a guitar string, oboe reed.

Coronal mass ejections
explosions at our Sun’s surface
trigger acoustic sound waves–
rhythmic they bounce back and forth
between both ends of loops
standing waves of solar sound:
a pick to string, breath to reed.

Microflares play magnetic loops
set sound waves in motion funnel heat
into Sun’s outer atmosphere
acoustic waves climb tens of miles
go 50-90,000 miles
sonic booms alive an hour:
send song and warmth on a journey.

Solar notes soar on plasma
100 times hotter than sun:
wander heaven forever.

In other news the Pope claims
there’s reason to hope babies
who die without baptism
don’t enjoy an eternal
state of perfect natural
happiness called limbo but
in heaven commune with God.

However no one knows for sure
what becomes of unbaptized
babies; Scripture is largely

silent on the matter

while Sun sings in the cosmos.

Sun’s Atmosphere Sings
Jeanna Bryner
Staff Writer
Thu Apr 19, 11:30 AM ET

Astronomers have recorded heavenly music bellowed out by the Sun’s atmosphere.
Snagging orchestra seats for this solar symphony would be fruitless, however, as the frequency of the sound waves is below the human hearing threshold. While humans can make out sounds between 20 and 20,000 hertz, the solar sound waves are on the order of milli-hertz–a thousandth of a hertz.
The study, presented this week at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting in Lancashire, England, reveals that the looping magnetic fields along the Sun’s outer regions, called the corona, carry magnetic sound waves in a similar manner to musical instruments such as guitars or pipe organs.
Making music
Robertus von Fay-Siebenburgen of the Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Center at the University of Sheffield and his colleagues combined information gleaned from sun-orbiting satellites with theoretical models of solar processes, such as coronal mass ejections.
They found that explosive events at the Sun’s surface appear to trigger acoustic waves that bounce back and forth between both ends of the loops, a phenomenon known as a standing wave.
“These magnetic loops are analogous to a simple guitar string,” von Fay-Siebenburgen explained. “If you pluck a guitar string, you will hear the music.”
In the cosmic equivalent of a guitar pick, so-called microflares at the base of loops could be plucking the magnetic loops and setting the sound waves in motion, the researchers speculate. While solar flares are the largest explosions in the solar system, microflares are a million times smaller but much more frequent; both phenomena are now thought to funnel heat into the Sun’s outer atmosphere.
The acoustic waves can be extremely energetic, reaching heights of tens of miles, and can travel at rapid speeds of 45,000 to 90,000 miles per hour. “These [explosions] release energy equivalent to millions of hydrogen bombs,” von Fay-Siebenburgen said.
“These energies are plucking these magnetic strings or standing pipes, which set up standing waves–exactly the same waves you see on a guitar string,” von Fay-Siebenburgen told The “sound booms” decay to silence in less than an hour, dissipating in the hot solar corona.
Solar physics
The musical finding could help explain why the Sun’s corona is so hot.
While the Sun’s surface is a steamy 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5,538 degrees Celsius), plasma gas in the corona soars to more than 100 times hotter.
(end of article edited for brevity)
Pope revises limbo, says there is hope for babies who are not baptized
Fri Apr 20, 7:20 PM By Nicole Winfield

VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Benedict has reversed centuries of traditional Roman Catholic teaching on limbo, approving a Vatican report released Friday that says there were “serious” grounds to hope that children who die without being baptized can go to heaven.
Theologians said the move was highly significant, both for what it says about Benedict’s willingness to buck a long-standing tenet of Catholic belief and for what it means theologically about the Church’s views on heaven, hell and original sin: the sin that the faithful believe all children are born with.
Although Catholics have long believed that children who die without being baptized are with original sin and thus excluded from heaven, the Church has no formal doctrine on the matter. Theologians, however, have long taught that such children enjoy an eternal state of perfect natural happiness, a state commonly called limbo, but without being in communion with God.
“If there’s no limbo and we’re not going to revert to St. Augustine’s teaching that unbaptized infants go to hell, we’re left with only one option, namely, that everyone is born in the state of grace,” said the Rev. Richard McBrien, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame.
“Baptism does not exist to wipe away the “stain” of original sin, but to initiate one into the Church,” he said in an e-mailed response.
Benedict approved the findings of the International Theological Commission, a Vatican advisory panel, which said it was reassessing traditional teaching on limbo in light of “pressing” pastoral needs, primarily the growing number of abortions and infants born to non-believers who die without being baptized.
While the report does not carry the authority of a papal encyclical or even the weight of a formal document from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it was approved by the Pope on Jan. 19 and was published on the Internet, an indication that it was intended to be widely read by the faithful.
“We can say we have many reasons to hope that there is salvation for these babies,” the Rev. Luis Ladaria, a Jesuit who is the commission’s secretary general, told The Associated Press. He stressed that there was no certainty, just hope.
The Commission posted its document Friday on Origins, the documentary service of Catholic News Service, the news agency of the American Bishop’s Conference.
The document traces centuries of Church views on the fate of unbaptized infants, paying particular attention to the writings of St. Augustine, the 4th century bishop who is particularly dear to Benedict. Augustine wrote that such infants do go to hell, but they suffer only the “mildest condemnation.”
In the document, the commission said such views are now out of date and there were “serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptized infants who die will be saved and enjoy the beatific vision.”
It stressed, however, that “these are reasons for prayerful hope, rather than grounds for sure knowledge.”
No one can know for certain what becomes of unbaptized babies since Scripture is largely silent on the matter, the report said. (article continues)

8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2008 9:25 pm

    i loved this. all the imagery is so startling and vivid. i like poems and stories that are informed by a mix of science and cultural referents and create surprising metaphors out of common things and forcing us to glance again and yet again.

  2. nathan1313 permalink
    June 24, 2008 12:41 am

    This is fascinating and beautiful — a great combination. The last five lines are startling. I like the way you take the poem in this direction. It reminds me of the church’s long history fighting astronomy.

  3. June 24, 2008 2:14 am

    The description of the sun and its sounds pulsates!

  4. June 24, 2008 7:38 am

    Hi AP! It’s late but I wantd to drop by and see what you’re up to. I love the right turn at Albuquerque this takes with “In other news the Pope claims
    there’s reason to hope babies…” Great articles to inspire poetry. I’d heard about sun-music… as well the universe itself sings. Perhaps only those in limbo can hear it.

  5. June 24, 2008 3:21 pm

    thank you, everyone, for the positive feedback!

    Joy Renee, I too like work that combines real science and its inherent beauty in poetic works and often find poetry in that kind of writing; science writer KC Cole often inspires me.

    Nathan, I hadn’t thought about the conflict between church and science of astronomy –I knew in writing it there as a connection but hadn’t thought it through completely.

    Open Channel, I like that idea too–that those in limbo get to listen to this heavenly music…

    I keep fighting the title–any thoughts on it?

  6. June 24, 2008 8:25 pm

    I loved the juxtaposition of the powerful natural universe, the sun as its fascinating behavior – with the wholly unimportant proclamation by the Pope. Talk about from the sublime to the ridiculous…

  7. June 24, 2008 8:39 pm

    You have conducted the solar sypmphony beautifully. A lovely swirling cosmological poem with great resonance.

  8. June 27, 2008 5:25 pm

    this is beautiful, I love the idea of the sun singing and you describe it beautifully. I love also how you use that as a lead in to eternal life and the ending is perfect.

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