Ptolemy, he knew the skies –
At least, that much he saw of them
Of course, he only had his eyes,
And only words for drawing them.
He plotted out the vibrant stars
Upon each underlying figure,
But where ran the linking-bars
Were sketched with far less rigour.
And then there were the hinterlands,
The unincorporated flames
Between the cities – roguish bands
Too faint to ever warrant names.
He never saw the very South,
The depths beneath the Argo’s keel,
The Eridanus to its mouth,
The wings and scales which pole-wards wheel.
So later gazers filled the gaps
With modern and precision tools –
They’re lacking in some myths, perhaps,
A free-for-all where logic rules.
But Ptolemy has the last laugh,
Those empty spaces serve their turn –
For ev’ry dim and dull giraffe,
Shall help his bears to brightly burn,
And sailors through the years are wise,
From triremes to ships-of-the-line,
To just ignore the cluttered skies
And let Polaris shine.