I've been working on lyrics to a Gilbert and Sullivan pastiche about the Drake Equation, but it's going a bit slowly. In the meantime, here is my version of "Wild Rover", which I sang at our local Chantey Sing a while back (the Chantey Sing is a get-together where people take turns leading the group in singing old sailors' work songs and other nautical music.) As I explained to the folks there, these days the exploration of unknown lands that used to be the domain of human sailors has now been passed on to robots. Since the robots can't (or at least haven't shown much inclination to) write their own songs like the sailors did, someone ought to--so I've taken on the job.

I wrote this song shortly after Curiosity landed; it's from the perspective of the Mars rover Opportunity, who might get a bit of a rest now that someone else is there to take over. It is, to the best of my abilities, true to the particulars of the mission.

Oh, I've been a Mars rover for many a year
Since the day we crash-landed on this ruddy sphere
From crater to crater I've tirelessly rolled
Seeking out signs of water, more precious than gold

But it's no, nay, never,
No nay never no more
Will I play the Mars rover
No never, no more

It was eight years ago that we set sail from Earth
On a mission to show what a Rover is worth
And as soon as we landed, my sister and I
Started taking our data beneath the red sky


Every rock that I spied was exciting and new
So I radioed pictures back home to my crew
They guided my wheels with the greatest of care
And checked that my sensors were in good repair


But the furious storms turn the sky black with dust
Cutting life-giving sunlight with each violent gust
My wheels get ensnared in each perilous dune
And it's freezing at midnight and sun-baked at noon


My joints are all creaky, my sensors are cracked
And my robotic arm can no longer retract
This ninety-day mission, as they called it then
Has recently reached day three thousand and ten


But recently rumors have started to fly
That a new roving friend would soon fall from the sky
She'd be new, she'd be handsome, with cameras galore
A laser, a mass spec, an oven and more


I can look back with pride at the science I've done
Curiosity's turn for her day in the sun
My spirited sister and I can retire
And sit back and watch as the data piles higher

[chorus, repeated in a triumphant fashion]

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Comment by Anushree Srivastava on July 12, 2013 at 12:39am

yeah :)  I like the spontaneous nature of non-rhyming poems and I think Gibran's poetry is one of its profound examples. I also think that rhyming has its own timeless beauty and rhythm. 

Comment by Regina Carns on July 8, 2013 at 11:51am

Thanks, Anushree!

You could always compose non-rhyming poems--my poetry books say that rhyming is a bit old-fashioned anyway.

Comment by Anushree Srivastava on July 5, 2013 at 4:25am

Hi Regina! You really bring a refreshing ambiance on SAGAN through your poems. Especially this one, I loved it! I too am very fond of poetry and wish to compose poems, but my rhyming is not that good :( you do it beautifully. I could hear what the rover wanted to say through its song :)


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