We Are Stardust

The latest news from deep space is that scientists believe the explosion of a supernova at the center of our galaxy generated enough cosmic dust to make everything on Earth 7,000 times over, including us.

But then that should come as no surprise, since the noted scientific researcher Joni Mitchell, along with her lab assistants Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young detailed our connection to stardust back in 1970.

Long before that (but after that supernova explosion), Hoagy Carmichael was using chords to depict stardust, and Mitchell Parish provided some elegantly twisty lyrics to turn the focus of the song outward and back on itself at the same time.

Strangely, because it is a work of art and doesn’t have any particular physical qualities outside of the paper its notes and words are written on, the Carmichael/Parish song Stardust is actually one feature of our cultural landscape that’s NOT made of stardust. But that couldn’t protect the song from some savage treatment – me trying to wrangle it into something that reflects this latest bit of astronomical information:

Sometimes I wonder how the stuff
that makes us up, came to be around.
Floating free, scientists agree,
some dust congealed to me and you.

When we were brand new,
drifting in a constellation!
Ah, but that was long ago,
and our coagulation means that to stardust we belong.

Exploding ancient stars
gave off some light, and a lot of stuff.
The stuff survived. Later we arrived.
I can’t explain it, nor can you.

I believe they know
So let’s all just say it’s so.
We’re stardust, you and me,
Debris from chaos, long ago.

What are you made of?

35 thoughts on “We Are Stardust”

  1. Good morning. I wonder if I am made of anything. Could it be that everything, including my existence, is an illusion? This is a thought that comes into my mind from time to time. We are told that everything is made up of sub atomic particles. Maybe we are made out of nothing and are just illusions.

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  2. Well, I’ve been told snips, snails and puppy dog tails juxtaposed with the feminine framework of sugar, spice and all things nice. But that dichotomy is all the more mystifying when considering the various elements of the masculine side. Snips (eels)? I’m not sure what quality of eels is analogous to boys. Slippery with the truth? Electric personalities? More likely it goes to the “ick” factor of boys stereotypical habits of hygiene but aversion to bathing would make us more scaly and snake-like. Snails? Are we “slow” mentally? Delicious in a wine and cheese sauce? I think we’re back to the “ick” again; leaving a trail of debris where ever we go including leaving the toilet seat up. But now to the bigger problem, puppy dog tails. I cannot think of anything unsettling about their inclusion in my physicality. Little dog tails, while attached, are delightful to stroke especially when the stroker is one of those sugary, spice, whatever girls.

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  3. Given the number of boxes in my house, I’m surprised I’m not made of Girl Scout cookies. Given my general diet, I’m probably made up of coffee, red wine, a bit of dark chocolate and dairy products (with some spinach thrown in for color).

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        1. In the interest of full disclosure I should say that I no longer dance poolside after having been upstaged by a mermaid…I don’t like being upstaged and that little blue-skinned minx had hit coming…

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  4. I am an old chaos of a nameless sun, the residue of an anonymous big bang. I am a myriad of whirling stardust loosely held together by dreams, regrets and desires. I am a spark of brightness preceded and followed by infinities of darkness.

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  5. I’ve long been a fan of this statement:

    The cosmos is within us. We are made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself. -Carl Sagan

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  6. These our actors,
    As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
    Are melted into air, into thin air:
    And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
    The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
    The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
    Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
    And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
    Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
    As dreams are made on; and our little life
    Is rounded with a sleep.

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    1. I heard Christopher Plummer recite this as Prospero at the Stratford Festival a couple of years ago in Stratford Ontario. It was magical.

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