Desolate lunar surface photographs and images of skulls and lungs permeate recent work. The fragility of life is inescapable. I always liked “Sad Steps” by Philip Larkin, especially the last stanza. The poem is reprinted below.

Sad Steps

Groping back to bed after a piss
I part thick curtains, and am startled by
The rapid clouds, the moon’s cleanliness.
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Four o’clock: wedge-shadowed gardens lie
Under a cavernous, a wind-picked sky.
There’s something laughable about this,
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The way the moon dashes through clouds that blow
Loosely as cannon-smoke to stand apart
(Stone-coloured light sharpening the roofs below)
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High and preposterous and separate—
Lozenge of love! Medallion of art!
O wolves of memory! Immensements! No,
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One shivers slightly, looking up there.
The hardness and the brightness and the plain
Far-reaching singleness of that wide stare
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Is a reminder of the strength and pain
Of being young; that it can’t come again,
But is for others undiminished somewhere.
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