The Transit of Venus (a poem)

On 6 June 2012 the second and last transit of Venus across the face of the Sun this century will take place, not to be repeated again until 2117.


It is the rarity of the crossing that makes it precious
but also the shared experience of seeing a spot

not just a shadow on the retina or weak-minded
figment, drift across the mother of all eyes

the tears caused by prolonged staring at a light source
and the camaraderie of fancy dress as we ask

workers of the world to drop their tools and don
their welding goggles, 3D glasses, bounty hunter

masks, whatever protection they can muster
to gaze and amaze. A story for their grandchildren!


Any solar event is innately dangerous and risks
turning its observers stone blind. Moreover

because of their extreme low periodicity
transits of Venus penalise entire generations

who forfeit the opportunity of witnessing a small
black disc moving across the face of the sun

merely by dint of their birth. We favour solar
eclipses by the moon, which occur several

times a year across the globe and are really
rather spectacular. When has darkness ever fallen

and the birds folded their wings for Venus?
Such transits should be permanently abolished.

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