The Marginalian
The Marginalian

But We Had Music: Nick Cave Reads an Animated Poem about Black Holes, Eternity, and How to Bear Our Lives

How, knowing that even the universe is dying, do we bear our lives?

Most readily, through friendship, through connection, through co-creating the world we want to live in for the brief time we have together on this lonely, perfect planet.

The seventh annual Universe in Verse — a many-hearted labor of love, celebrating the wonder of reality through science and poetry — occasioned a joyous collaboration with Australian musician and writer Nick Cave and Brazilian artist and filmmaker Daniel Bruson on an animated poem reckoning with this central question of being alive.

by Maria Popova

Right this minute
across time zones and opinions
people are
making plans
making meals
making promises and poems


at the center of our galaxy
a black hole with the mass of
four billion suns
screams its open-mouth kiss
     of oblivion.

Someday it will swallow
Euclid’s postulates and the Goldberg Variations,
swallow calculus and Leaves of Grass.

I know this.

And still
when the constellation of starlings
flickers across the evening sky,
it is     enough

to stand here
for an irrevocable minute
     agape with wonder.

It is     eternity.

At 7PM EST on April 7, tune into the livestream of the 2024 Universe in Verse, celebrating the science and wonder of eclipses, to hear Nick tell the ecliptic story of marrying the love of his life, alongside a constellation of other dazzling humans bringing to life the science of gravity and relativity, tides and black holes, the formation of the Moon and the chemistry of the Sun, through poems and stories that help us meet reality on its own terms and broaden the terms on which we meet ourselves and each other.

Couple with Daniel Bruson’s breathtaking animation of former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith’s poem “My God, It’s Full of Stars” from a previous season of The Universe in Verse, then revisit Nick Cave on the art of growing older and the antidote to our existential helplessness.

Published April 6, 2024




Filed Under

View Full Site

The Marginalian participates in the and affiliate programs, designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to books. In more human terms, this means that whenever you buy a book from a link here, I receive a small percentage of its price, which goes straight back into my own colossal biblioexpenses. Privacy policy. (TLDR: You're safe — there are no nefarious "third parties" lurking on my watch or shedding crumbs of the "cookies" the rest of the internet uses.)