I read this poem in 11th grade. It was really difficult to understand. The teacher had us read it in class. It was approximately two pages of verse. It took almost 30 minutes for us, collectively, to interpret it.

The poem described what would happen if the sun's gravitational pull were no longer strong enough to keep us in orbit. Instead, Earth was slowly drifting off, on a trajectory that would take us away from the sun's warmth, through the solar system and beyond, although everyone would be dead by then. The poem described how each day was colder. Everyone knew that there was no hope for Earth and humanity.

It may have been written by Ogden Nash or Carl Sandberg. I'm guessing, but it was probably written in the 1960's. Does anyone know the name of the poem?

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    No, I am not thinking of that annoying Sting song, "there's a little black spot on the sun today..." although I never understood what that was about either! Commented May 24, 2013 at 12:54
  • It sounds like it could possibly be a Shel Silverstein poem, albeit a very dark one.
    – Discord
    Commented May 24, 2013 at 13:08
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    Fritz Lieber's A Pail of Air (56 or so) isn't poetry but quite similar plot: sffaudio.com/?p=32087 Commented May 24, 2013 at 18:13
  • @WayfaringStranger Wow, those are amazing illustrations! I really liked that webpage. It has a similar theme, the Lieber story, but isn't what I had in mind. Thank you though! Commented May 27, 2013 at 5:31

1 Answer 1


This sounds like a poem we read in High School by Archibald McLeish titled "Epistle to Be Left in the Earth", I remember only one line from it but not well enough to quote: It is colder now, we are drifting north by the great bear.

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    Yes! That is the poem! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I've been trying to find that poem for 15 years. It wasn't ever going to happen, because I was looking for works by the wrong two authors, and didn't recall the title, nor any of the words. I really appreciate your help. So you read it in high school too? I went to public school in New Mexico. We read it in 11th grade. I loved my Am Lit class. Thank you so much. Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 13:45
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    The full poem can now be found online here: lightondarkwater.com/2018/09/…
    – PLL
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 17:32
  • Thank you, @PLL I found it on the Internet Archive in a not-great format. The one you suggested is better. Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 16:10

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