Letter to Yuri

Letter to Yuri
(Listening to the world’s first manned spaceflight on a crystal radio set. 12th April 1961.)

From the wire in the garden
Your news came to came to me via the B.B.C. -
The Home Service they had called it -
But not for you
As you travelled further away from us than
          anyone had ever done -

Spinning in your little egg
          in the monstrous foot-pads of Laika the dog.


Background note: 12th April, 1961, the 27 year-old son of a Russian carpenter and a dairy-maid became the first person to travel into space. Yuri Gagarin's historic journey made one orbit of the Earth in only 108 minutes.

(The journey had taken place just four years after the first space-flight by a living creature - a dog named Laika who had died from lack of oxygen after one week in orbit.)

In April 1961, a few days before the manned flight (and largely at my insistence!) my father and brother had concocted a home-made crystal radio set built from a coil of wire, a diode, a "tuning gang" variable capacitor, a transistor, a battery and a pair of "Army Surplus" headphones. The aerial was a simple strand of wire running the length of my parents' back-garden.

I still recall that amazing day - listening to the news of Gagarin's flight breaking on the B.B.C. - on my very own crystal set!

This piece was written in 2001 and only afterwards did I realise the land-mark anniversary of that historic moment.



1st manned spaceflight60 years agoYuri Gagarin

◄ Les gens du Bocage; les hommes du débarquement - Normandy early July 1944


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Stephen Gospage

Mon 12th Apr 2021 18:05

Thanks, Phil. I was a bit too young to remember the day of the flight but your poem and description brought back my childhood fascination with space travel, which developed a few years later.

I always felt sorry for Laika.

I also posted a Gagarin poem this evening.

Thanks once again for stirring nice memories.

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