The Interferometer

Don Herbison-Evans

dedicated to Jonathan, Thorin, Cressida, and Merlin

11 August 1971

Two monsters lived in a cathedral
In Narrabri, New South Wales:
Benign and beautiful monsters,
Though they did not have teeth toes or tails,

For they weren't really regular monsters,
Though they roared and were 10 metres high,
For the boffins who cooly designed them
Built them only to measure the sky.

They were built out of mirrors and motors
And each had a very long nose
Which housed the photodetectors
And made a good perch for the crows

Should they venture out into the daylight
Which was really quite seldom and rare
For the light hurt their photodetectors
So they stayed all the day in their lair,

Which was not quite a real cathedral.
It did not have altars to Zion,
But was built out of giant steel girders
And corrugated sheets of old iron.

But in evening as nighttime approach-ed
And the sun sank into the plains
The boffins went to their control room
And started their curious games.

The monsters bestirred themslves slowly
And trundled outside on their track.
They'd stretch and yawn into position
As the sky became velvety black.

And the boffins back in their control room
Drew graphs with a line and a bar
All the night with their numbers computing
The distance and size of each star.

But outside in darkness and starlight,
Two beautiful monsters would croon,
With long noses pointed to heaven
Sent high by celestial perfume.