Unknown Pleasures

Disorder in your massive core,

A candidate that we adore;

With every pulse that passes by

You sweep across the darkest sky.

 

An insight into what might be,

Beyond the reach of men like me;

A new dawn fades as to my eye

You sweep across the darkest sky.

 

It’s shadowplay across the spheres,

What reaches us transcends the years;

Now frozen in your perfect cry,

You sweep across the darkest sky.

 

A scream into the wilderness,

The interzone of bitterness;

We can no longer ask you why

You sweep across the darkest sky.

 

Do I remember nothing right;

A New Order has come to light?

So even though your star may die,

You sweep across the darkest sky.

 

Unknown Pleasures LP cover (Photo Credit: Amazon)
Unknown Pleasures LP cover (Photo Credit: Amazon).

 

This is a Kyrielle, written about the artwork for Joy Division’s 1979 debut album ‘Unknown Pleasures’. This image represents a stacked plot of the radio signals from the first observed pulsar – CP1919. A pulsar is a rapidly rotating neutron star that emits pulses of radio waves at regular intervals as the star rotates, much like a lighthouse beam sweeping across the night sky. Similarly, a stacked plot is simply a regular line graph that has been subdivided into its various components, so that the comparisons between these components, as well as the totals can be seen.

The plot itself was created by Harold D. Craft Jr., as part of his PhD thesis “Radio Observations of the Pulse Profiles and Dispersion Measures of Twelve Pulsars,” in September 1970. You can read more about Cp1919, including an interview with Craft, in this excellent Scientific American article.

An audio version of the poem can be heard here.

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