Just last August it was Neil Armstrong. Now another moon man has gone. While Armstrong made his 'giant leap' and left those griddled boot-prints on that windless scape, Moore was always the Man in the Moon, and not only because his monacle enhanced the likeness; the moon was his main obsession and speciality. Although nothing on the moon is named after him, he discovered and named the Eastern Sea, or Mare Orientale. He also discovered the 'transient lunar phenomenon', lingering glowing patches of light on the surface, a surface which he had already mapped in so much detail (before the NASA Apollo missions) that the Russians used his charts to correlate their first pictures of the far side. No wonder his first work of fiction was called Master of the Moon. Moore was far from transient himself. The first programme in 'The Sky At Night' aired the same month I was born, April 1957. Below is a short sequence I have been tinkering with for the past few months:
THE SKY AT NIGHT
We meet the monocled Man
in the Moon, who couldn’t care less
how he comes across, gruff, infectious
schoolboy, knockabout clown ––
reserving a Tory scowl
for women, gays (saluting Enoch Powell) ––
speaking in Spitfire bursts,
never sunk, always immersed
on the wealth of that spilled purse.
A Field, Schull, West Cork, 1973
Mark it, the first, and so far
only time I slept in the open
gazing up into the vaults ––
brushed by a passing
inquisitive summer rain ––
tasting the pattern.
To see how deeply grooved
everything is, leave your camera set
at 30 seconds, gaping on a cloudless night.
Neither analogue nor digital,
old starlight’s always cut with a needle ––
silver-plated, pristine, pulled
from the earth’s dark sleeve, each track
is authentic, a classic.
Bun a tSleibh, County Wicklow
A clear, cold night, earth-lit
by the tip of my friend’s cigarette.
I pointed and traced the arc-weld
of The Milky Way, filling his head
with stars, distances, density –– ‘Fuck off,
sure that’s only a bit of old smoke.’
A Last Word From Our Host
At 82, in an interview,
asked if he believes in god or if ‘all matter’
came from the Big Bang: ‘Ask me that
in ten years and I’ll be able to tell you.’
*The name of Sir Patrick Moore’s house.