silence in the sky

by William Paterson

Image: Lou Shornick via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Image: Lou Shornick via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Oft as I try to wander out, among the stars on high,
I wonder more and more why reigns such silence in the sky.

The earth is moving at a pace, that would if it were free,
Within one little moment’s space, reveal Eternity,

And orbs on orbs are rolling far, beyond this mortal ken,
Whose rays of light have never reached the eyes of mortal men.

Yet not a sound in all their course, is heard of voice or air,
While silence guards the ceaseless track of nature everywhere.

If worlds on worlds their voices joined, to raise one chorus high,
It could not reach the utmost verge of silence in the sky.

But man is vain enough to think, his homeopathic skill
Can show the causes that ordain, the work of sovereign will:

Can measure suns and stars and skies, by finite rod and rule,
As if he could create anew; presumptuous mortal fool,

Be still, for God the Lord is God, and knows the reason why,
When worlds are rolling on thro’ space, there’s silence in the sky.

Albert Einstein (shown arriving at Newark Airport in 1939) settled in New Jersey thanks to the munificence of Newark entrepreneur Louis Bamberger: the Institute for Advanced Study, where Einstein worked until the end of his life, owed its existence to Bamberger’s department store fortune. Einstein was welcomed publicly to Newark for the first time on March 25, 1934, when he attended a concert at the Armory and a dinner at the Mosque Theater; both events raised funds for German scientists and others like Einstein fleeing Nazi persecution.

William Paterson, a grandson and namesake of New Jersey’s second governor, practiced law in Newark. “Silence in the Sky” comes from the 1882 volume Poems of Twin Graduates of the College of New Jersey, by William and his twin brother Stephen Van Rensselaer Paterson.

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