The Man Who Knew Why The Stars Shine

Poem by Paul Lake

“One of the most impressive discoveries was the origin of the energy of stars, that makes them continue to burn. One of the men who discovered this was out with his girlfriend the night after he realized that nuclear reactions must be going on in the stars in order to make them shine. She said ‘Look at how pretty the stars shine!’ He said, ‘Yes, and right now I am the only man in the world who knows why stars shine.’ She merely laughed at him.

                                      —Richard Feynman, Six Easy Pieces 


He knew why stars shine
But still hadn’t learned
That a girl, growing tired
And bored, never yearned
To hear the one man
Who knew why explain
How the stars shine so prettily
Without commenting on
Those stellar attractions
Much closer at hand.
And so with face fired
By internal reactions
He watched as the one
Girl he deeply desired
First laughed at his gravity
Then left him to burn.