Winter gradation of light here touches me at some profound level. Perhaps especially glad of light in shortened days there’s a poignant magnification of beauty all around me – light’s calling me to appreciate what is, when it is, wherever it is.
Poets, too, are crazed by light, How to capture its changes, How to be accurate in seizing What has been caught by the eye In an instant’s flash – Light through a petal, Iridescence of clouds before sunrise. They, too, are haunted by the need To hold the fleeting still In a design – That vermilion under the haystack, Struck at sunset, Melting into the golden air Yet perfectly defined, An illuminated transience.
Today my house is lost in milk, The milky veils of a blizzard. The trees have turned pale. There are no shadows, That is the problem – no shadows At all.
It is harder to see what one sees Than anyone knows. Monet knew, spent a lifetime Trying to undazzle the light And pin it down.
May Sarton Letters from Maine: New Poems, 1984
They, too, are haunted by the need / To hold the fleeting still / In a design
We cannot hold the fleeting still. That’s why, for us, time so often appears, inexplicably, to fly. And time between the 3rd November 2022 and tonight, the 19th November 2022, appears to me to have passed in the blink of an eye. Of course, I have flashing memories of a flu jab, dental treatment, a Covid vaccine booster, poems read, accounts enumerated, letters written and received, some loving conversations – about life, and about death, about love, and about grief: yes, of course. Yet still there’s a degree of unknowing, an inability to grasp time’s flight, and probably a need to step out, sometimes, for a while, from the paths of routine, simply to breathe ‘illuminated transience.’ Yes: there are times and spaces when It is harder to see what one sees / Than anyone knows.
This blog remains a steady friend to me – sometimes in daily conversations and at others, in much the same way as happens in many other relationships, by way of catch-up. Revisiting. Re-membering. Undazzling the light. This blog reminds me – encourages me – to recognise profound beauty in the daily journey, not just in the destination. This blog slows me down within the continuum, the quiet voice at my shoulder inviting me to love and to life. And with every blink of my eyes, with every breath breathed in and out, with every attempt to catch a fleeting thought, or to let a thought take flight, the view changes. Focus zooms in and out … harder to see what one sees / Than anyone knows …
But – Light through a petal – it’s OK to be moved only ever so slightly in the breeze: to stay awhile, to let all that is, within and beyond, tell us quietly what ungraspable time and life and love are really all about.
Edinburgh is arts, art and festival 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – which makes it a natural environment to host arts, art and one of the world’s best known International Festivals. Nature, and innumerable artists working together, will touch this vibrant city with colour, drama, light and great literature; with prose and poetry, music, song and dance throughout a happy August. And just outside my window I behold gold 🌱
One thing is certain, and I have always known it – the joys of my life have nothing to do with age. They do not change. Flowers, the morning and evening light, music, poetry, silence, the goldfinches darting about …
Freesias, for me. For my desk. Peppery and colourful. And my best ever morning light? Two best ever! i – Sunrise over Galilee. ii – Normandy. Scented apple orchards and a golden mist hung a few feet above rolling fields, just after sunrise. Evening? In winter when it’s time for firelight. Music? Usually one piece at a time, silence before and aft to hold words, notation, resonance (!) and echo. Poetry? – my way of allowing the Universe to speak to me randomly: close my eyes and take down a volume – pot luck, usually followed by more of good fortune than anticipated. Silence? – why silence? William Stafford’s glorious ‘Listening’ suggests an answer more exquisitely than I’ve ever penned to date. And goldfinches? The ones who seem to enjoy my Japanese Acer as much as I do. Two little tininesses that fly-in disproportionate measures of duty-free joy from wherever they’ve been playing.
My father could hear a little animal step, or a moth in the dark against the screen, and every far sound called the listening out into places where the rest of us had never been.
More spoke to him from the soft wild night than came to our porch for us on the wind; we would watch him look up and his face go keen till the walls of the world flared, widened.
My father heard so much that we still stand inviting the quiet by turning the face, waiting for a time when something in the night will touch us too from that other place.
William Stafford Listening from West of Your City Talisman, 1960
Emergence: sound and light. Thank-offerings in the journeying of David Whyte.
Sometimes, oftentimes perhaps, it is our close friends who help us give voice to what we most need to say in a day – or in a lifetime. And other times when, even if they feel they can not quite, a friend might tell us: ‘but I know someone who can’ …
Thank you, dear Lori, for all the times when you absolutely know: thank you for sharing David Whyte’s articulating the prayer of The Burren – that great and Ancient windswept bedrock in the soul of all of us. Yes, thank you, Sound. And thanks to you, too, Light.
Dark only in so far as a little international company were close-gathered beneath the firmament – huddled – half way up a volcano that last erupted here 350 million years ago.
Dark only in so far as midnight arrived before any of us expected her to, amid the silent music of the sun’s solstice-reluctance to leave us through the hours of our night.
Dark only in so far as we needed to scrunch our eyes a bit to focus in the twilight, taking care not to spill hot herbal tea or sit on a plate of grapes or another of fresh mango.
All else was light. Is light. Will be light. The light that – come what may – is irrepressibly present within, and in life-dancing … sometimes silent, sometimes heard(link), as though on a slight breeze …
Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood, Edinburgh. Wednesday 22 June 2022
Some days are just pottering days aren’t they? – nothing very energetic or exciting, more a quiet tidying this and that, a contemplating, voting in the local elections, watching the progress of the light. And I’m feeling towards the close of day that the teachers who, through the ages, have encouraged a slowing down, a ‘consider the lilies of the field,’ an attentive watchfulness, have, between them, got it right!
So much of life has continuing need for the same set of requirements, and is made up of those same elements: a right balance of darkness, light and water. No wonder so many teachers have asked humanity to consider a flower as we contemplate our own lives.
Proximity to the beach is among the many joys I revel in here in Edinburgh. A ten minute bike ride from my door and the views of sand and sea and sky – changing colour literally by the second – root me to the spot.
Much, much warmer than in recent days, it’s nonetheless still windy and decidedly chilly (what else, in February? – I hear you reply). But the scent and the dream of Spring is in the air – in children pedalling tricycles joyously along the prom, in couples laughing whilst doing stretching exercises on the sand, and in something intangible in the very space of the place that seems to be saying ‘phwoar, it’s gonna be great to get beyond lockdown!’ And in Portobello light, that’s right.