The "Southern Cross" reference

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The poem that stuck out to me especially was The Amardillo. I'm not quite sure what the illegal fire balloons are. At first I thought of hot air balloons but as the poem went on I was reminded of the paper lanterns used in certain Asian cultures. Knowing that gunpowder was invented in Asia I immediately wondered is balloons of fire refers to some more ancient practice that I might not know of.

However, there was one piece of the poem that I was able to shed light on definitively. The poem makes reference to the lanterns floating between the kite sticks of the southern cross. For those that don't know, the southern cross is the equivalent of the big dipper to us. It is the constellation that harbors the "south star" which never moves in the sky much the way the north star is always fixed for us in the northern hemisphere. Thus, in much the same way that northern navigators were able to manuever themsleves in the open ocean lacking a compass, the southern star enables sailors in the southern hemisphere to do the same. Thus, the constellation of the southern cross (which also looks like a kite, as the poem points out) is extraordinarily important to the southern hemisphere history. In fact, the southern cross even appears on the Australian flag.


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