Greg’s series of articles has been analyzing the Rhysling winning poems year by year, starting back in 1978. This installment examines the 1980 winners, The Migration of Darkness by Peter Payack, Encased in the Amber of Eternity by Robert Frazier, and The Sonic Flowerfall of Primes by Andrew Joron.
Greg’s analysis of The Migration of Darkness is right on target. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve always enjoyed the use of extended metaphor which Payack uses in this poem. In the case of the Frazier poem, Encased in the Amber of Eternity, I disagree slightly with the supposition that Bob’s poem would be inaccessible to non-sf readers. I don’t think that a reader HAS TO KNOW what a torchship is or symptoms of the St Vitus dance neuromuscular condition. I think the reader can appreciate this poem without knowing these things. As for amber, in the post-Jurassic Park world of 2006, it’s now part of the popular consciousness.
Regarding The Sonic Flowerfall of Primes, I think there’s something of Bradbury’s "There Will Come Soft Rains" from The Martian Chronicles in the mood of it. I don’t see the poem so as a “fully and internally consistent unexplained otherworld” as much as a future apocalyptic view of our own. The satellites continue to orbit a dying world, sending their signals in 1’s and 0’s, as they sing a love song to each other. At least, this is my take on it.