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Joe Hanson (he/him/his) reads the poem, "If Only We Had Taller Been" by Ray Bradbury.

Recorded with permission of Don Congdon Associates, Inc. © 1973 by Harper & Row, renewed 2001 by Ray Bradbury.

Joe Hanson:

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I'm Joe Hanson, and today I'm going to be reading a poem by Ray Bradbury called, "If Only We Had Taller Been." I chose this poem because not only is it one of my favorite things that's ever be written, but every time I read it, it brings up such emotion and passion.

Bradbury composed this poem  for an event commemorating the landing of the Mariner 9 spacecraft  on the planet Mars in 1971. That was a moment in which science fiction I think became a little bit more real, and the mythology of humans  one day living beyond the planet Earth became a bit  more possible in that moment.

The fence we walked between the years Did balance us serene;  It was a place half in the sky where In the green of leaf and promising of peach  We’d reach our hands to touch and almost touch that lie,  That blue that was not really blue. If we could reach and touch, we said, ‘Twould teach us, somehow, never to be dead. We ached, we almost touched that stuff; Our reach was never quite enough.

So, Thomas, we are doomed to die. O, Tom, as I have often said, How sad we're both so short in bed. If only we had taller been, And touched God’s cuff, his hem, We would not have to sleep away and go with them Who’ve gone before, A billion give or take a million boys or more Who, short as us, stood tall as they could stand And hoped by stretching thus to keep their land, Their home, their hearth, their flesh and soul.

But they, like us, were standing in a hole. O, Thomas, will a Race one day stand really tall Across the Void, across the Universe and all? And, measured out with rocket fire, At last put Adam’s finger forth  As on the Sistine Ceiling And God’s hand come down the other way To measure Man and find him Good, And Gift him with Forever’s day?

I work for that. Short man, Large dream. I send my rockets forth between my ears, Hoping an inch of Will is worth a pound of years.  Aching to hear a voice cry back across the universal

Mall:  We’ve reached Alpha Centauri! We’re tall, O God, we’re tall!