A Brief History of the Universe

Darragh McManus’ poem “A Brief History of the Universe”, read by Snake-Oil Cure‘s editor DLR.

Click through to read the poem for yourself!

NOTHING. Absolute nothing. Perfect stillness beyond time and space.

A singularity: an infinite compression. Immeasurable density and heat. A point of no size.

The fundamental intake of breath. Held for an infinitesimal moment.


Time awakes.

The sublime cataclysm: an immense expulsion of energy.

Let there be.

The first cosmic sigh. Velocity of expansion, inflation, formation. The bending of time.

Reduction in speed. A cooling process.

Primary forms of energy: gravity, strong and weak forces, electromagnetism.

Basic particles smash into one another. Protons and neutrons formed.

One second has passed.

Simple elements: hydrogen, helium. A static core; no outer movement.

The Radiation Era. Light, radio waves, X-rays of different lengths. Spreading and diluting in all directions.

A tilt in the balance. Matter begins to outstrip radiation.

Creation of complex elements. The smooth rotation of electrons. Symmetry and rhythm.

Irregularities in the primordial gas. Bumps and holes. Random increases in density.

Stars ignite.

Our sun ignites.

Swirling masses of gas and fire. Dust collapsing into planets, moons.

Solidification and stability. The elliptical waltz of the galaxy.

The earth cools. Atmosphere. Moisture. Cosmic rays. Ozone. Photosynthesis.

A unique coalescence. That inexplicable spark. That chance kindling…


Microscopic cells. Safe in the burning womb of volcanic environments.

Mutation and evolution. Primitive creatures: algae, trilobites. Hard shells, a tight grip. Pliant, compact, resolute.

An infinity of flora. Flashing briefly into being; wiped away. Ever-changing cycles.

Complex animals: dinosaurs, the first mammals.

Convective currents and tectonic shifts. A geological crawl. Continents and the eruption of mountains.

A comet strikes: dinosaurs extinct.

Mammals diversify and expand. Smarter, fitter, more adaptable; bolder in the world.

The lineage of man: an ape that walked standing up.

Ice age: temporary inertia.

Self-awareness. The gasp of language. Thought speeding up and spreading out. An imposition of will on the planet.

Stirrings of civilisation. Agriculture. Animal domestication. Food surplus, trade and travel.

Religious binds. A notion of soul. The inside which wanders the endless outside.

Race and culture. Philosophy and art. Representation of the other. Reflection of the self.

High mortality and the contemplation of existence.

Exploration and colonisation. Violence and subjugation. Power lust and justification.

The concept of nation.

Slow improvements; resistance to enlightenment. Light is dimmed; re-ignited.

Renaissance and Reformation. The gradual embedding of humanism.

Modest shifts in consciousness; accumulated benefits. Insurrection and emancipation.

The industrial revolution: a mechanical quickening. The steam engine. Mass production. Science awakened. Commerce invigorated.

The world shrinking.

The spread of democracy. Sleek beauty of the machine. Anxiety and modernity.

Global conflict and conflagration. Hate made productive. Death and automation.

The atom split. A tear in the essence of reality. Another intake of breath. Light and heat.


The slow grind of the Cold War. Nervous resolution. Better living through chemistry.

An exponential increase in pace. Automobiles. Jet propulsion. Postmodernism and mass communications. Hyper-cities on hyper-speed.

Sending a rocket to the moon. Small steps beyond ourselves.

Microsurgery. Genetic splicing. Environmental damage. Resistant viruses and new radiation.

Accelerated evolution: bigger, stronger, faster. Progress and stasis.

The computer age. Reality in ones and zeroes. The omnipresent binary hum.


The end of history. Cosmic indifference. Life continues: onwards, upwards, inwards. We continue.

Another second passes.

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