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Monday, June 18, 2012

The Green Hills of Earth

  Robert Heinlein's Green Hills of Earth is a short story. It contains a number of poems/songs. You could read books on the subject without learning things Heinlein shows here. It is written as a magazine article telling the history from some time in the further future of Rhysling, a barroom singer of the early space age, who has become one of the classics of a fully developed spacegoing civilisation.

   The theme, more important than the story, is of our need for heroes - how we build them up to represent our own self images and then "discover" that they weren't really heroic in the image we created, but then reallt were heroic as themselves. The era in which the article is written is one ihich the settlement of the solar system has ben achieved and is therefore looked back in a romantic light, rather like the American West was when he wrote, or a "the environment" is tiday, ir indeed as the trojan War was to the ancient, but not Bronze Age, Greeks.

   In any case this is the title song. It fits the tunes
Amazing Grace

The House of the Rising Song
Ode to Joy (Beethoven's Ninth Symphony)
The Marine Corps Hymn

  . Heinlein, having been in the navy would have appreciated the Marine Hymn though I don't know it.

    The bits in Italics have been added by filksingers since he only gave one line from each of these verses..

The Green Hills of Earth

We rot in the molds of Venus,

We retch at her tainted breath.
Foul are her flooded jungles,
Crawling with unclean death.

We've tried each spinning space mote
And reckoned its true worth:
Take us back again to the homes of men
On the cool, green hills of Earth.

The harsh bright soil of Luna,
It shines for all to view.
Her cold and sterile craters
All lack the morning dew.


Saturn's rainbow rings are precious,
A guide in the depths of space.
Her dust and rocks form colors bright,
Unique chromatic grace.


In the frozen night of Titan,
We shiver in empty cold.
Her frozen shrouded cloudbanks
Hide mysteries yet untold.


The arching sky is calling
Spacemen back to their trade.
All hands! Stand by! Free falling!
And the lights below us fade.
Out ride the sons of Terra,
Far drives the thundering jet,
Up leaps the race of Earthmen,
Out, far, and onward yet.

We pray for one last landing
On the globe that gave us birth;
Let us rest our eyes on fleecy skies
And the cool, green hills of Earth.

copyright Robert A Heinlein, 1947

Additional words Jacob Sommer, March 20 2001

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