Pillars of Creation


Beyang Liu
On the nature of certain things


A few days ago, on the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA released a new photo of the Pillars of Creation, a massive dust and star formation in the Eagle Nebula that the Hubble had famously first captured in 1995. The new photo includes more of the surrounding region than its predecessor, and staring at it, I couldn’t help but notice a shape emerge.

Here’s a toast to the Hubble, on its 25th birthday:

Photo credit: ESA/Hubble

Out beyond our little bubble of air,
into the pitch, we peered with crystal eye,
and looked for truth—not where it lay, but where
the light was—in one corner of the sky.

And there we found the plumes of heaven’s clouds,
like smoke from embers burning white and red,
out where for light years stretch the ghostly shrouds
that swaddle stars newborn from heaven’s dead.

Yet discontent to see alone, our eye
perceives, makes purpose from the purposeless,
and on the fire of eternity
projects the yearning of Prometheus:

His crumbling hand still reaching—noble, flawed—
out of Eden to touch the face of God.

Photo credit: ESO