NASA released this video of the late Ray Bradbury reading a wonderful short poem entitled “If Only We Had Taller Been,” which Bradbury wrote on the occasion of the historic Mariner 9 Mars Orbiter mission, on November 12, 1971. In the video, Bradbury confesses he is the “least scientific” member of a symposium at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs in Pasadena, CA that includes Arthur C. Clarke, journalist Walter Sullivan, and scientists Carl Sagan and Bruce Murray.
In his introduction, Bradbury says the poem sums up his philosophy of space travel and why he writes science fiction. The lines are delivered as a dramatic, almost religious epiphany:
Short man. Large dream. I send my rockets forth between my ears, Hoping an inch of Will is worth a pound of years. Aching to hear a voice cry back along the universal Mall: We’ve reached Alpha Centauri! We’re tall, O God, we’re tall!