Tag Archives: solar eclipse

New Figs in Winter

Good morning.  Today is Emily’s 181st birthday, and there was a total lunar eclipse.  It might have been somewhat visible in our sky at about 6:00 a.m.  But I slept through it.  Chances are it would have been covered by clouds anyway.  The day is gray and cold.  Here are Emily’s prescient remarks:

#415, c. 1862

Sunset at Night — is natural —
But Sunset on the Dawn
Reverses Nature — Master —
So Midnight’s — due — at Noon.

Eclipses be — predicted —
And Science bows them in —
But do one face us suddenly —
Jehovah’s Watch — is wrong.

The poem gives us a solar eclipse, not quite consonant with today’s weather, but I’ll take it.  The “Sunset on the Dawn” is the line I like.  She points to an eclipse, which darkens the sun just at the time that we expect it to be most bright, as a reversal of Nature.  Yet it can happen and often does.  Eclipses occur all the time.  We know about these events and what causes them.  Yet the eclipse still touches some atavistic fear that the sun may be dying and the world coming to an end.  In our primitive reactive lizard brain, nature is perverted when the sun doesn’t do what we expect.

Given that we see eclipses happening all the time, albeit not often, wouldn’t that make it “natural” insofar as it does happen in nature?  Apparently not. Astronomers map out eclipses well into the future in their star charts.  They always know what is happening out there and calendar celestial movements with mathematical precision.  Even with all that comforting information, these events still arouse an old anxiety about the correct order of things.

The eclipses that change us, that reverse Nature, are the ones we didn’t predict.  Here Emily means “eclipse” more broadly as a sudden change, something gone, or something returned.  I want to ask what makes one thing a product of Nature and another a reversal of Nature?   If it happens in the physical world then that is Nature doing its work, right?  If it surprises us or “face one suddenly” that is only because we have not yet fully understood our Nature.  These unexpected “eclipses” that Emily suggests serve only to reveal the unseen parts of ourselves.

I particularly enjoy her blasphemy at the end:  “Jehovah’s Watch — is wrong.”  There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio . . .  Jehovah’s Watch is Adam and all the humans that descended from him.  The human body and mind comprise the watch tower that houses Jehovah’s presence.  Emily says that Jehovah’s Watch is wrong.  Not Jehovah.  She does not presume to know the mind of God.  But she is willing to dismantle the bricks of the self-appointed watch tower—those fallible humans who have missed a few turns in the road along the way.

She is not willing to genuflect to Science, either.  There are a few things that the astronomers failed to predict or explain.  For Emily the truth is in the middle, in that tension between faith and knowledge, where the foreground and background shift past each other in a constant optical illusion.   The middle ground where poems rest.

Speaking of reversals of Nature . . . my fig tree gave me five ripe figs this morning.  Here we are on the cusp of the Winter Solstice and my silly fig tree, who apparently can’t tell time, has decided to bear new fruit.  Geoff’s fig tree (which I gave him—everyone I love should have a fig tree) has also fruited spontaneously and mysteriously in this early winter.

I was thrilled to receive these fruits, no matter how unnatural their arrival.  The pickings in Summer are usually slim because those idiot Blue Jays eat all my figs before I can get to them.  The birds can spot the ripening blush sooner than I do, which makes sense—they’re more invested.

In any case, my answer is Yes!  I will take this late harvest.  The figs are fat and sweet.  Perhaps a little tougher than what I’d get in July.  Still, this fruit will feed me just fine.


Filed under Emily Every Day

The Sun Winks Out

Two weeks ago we had a lunar eclipse. So today we have the attending solar eclipse. This time the sun, moon, mercury, venus and pluto—all pile up in Capricorn. Hoo boy, that’s dense. It’ll take some time to dig out from under this pile of earth.

During a solar eclipse the sun goes dark in the day. The light winks out. We have to accept this unnatural darkness, and do our best before the sun returns.

Emily must have been eavesdropping on the Cupid and Psyche workshop. Here is her response.

#611, c. 1862

I see thee better — in the Dark —
I do not need a Light —
The Love of Thee — a Prism be —
Excelling Violet —

I see thee better for the Years
That hunch themselves between —
The Miner’s Lamp — sufficient be —
To nullify the Mine —

And in the Grave — I see Thee best —
Its little Panels be
Aglow — All ruddy — with the Light
I held so high, for Thee —

What need of Day —
To Those whose Dark — hath so — surpassing Sun —
It deem it be — Continually —
At the Meridian?

The poet’s sight grows sharper in the darkness behind her eyes. Her ability to “see”— that is through the prism of memory and imagination— holds the loved one forever at the meridian, or the highest point reached by a heavenly body. Emily’s love flourishes in the dark of unconscious, for it exists below thought or beyond rational justification. Like the ground of being, this love doesn’t answer questions or assume a shape in the light. It will never make sense.

This vision of love is more “true” than the prosaic reality exposed by common daylight. Only refracted light opens to reveal the true colors inside, the rays following a bending pathway that points toward this love, or truth, or simply what is. “Art is the lie that tells the truth.” Or so I’ve heard.

We can forgive Psyche her vulgar curiosity. She pushes us toward seeing the thing before us that may not match the thing that lies in the dark behind our eyes. Even when it shocks, we grow from this inquiry. That disturbance helps us make our way in the dark. Now at least we know what is there. We can navigate better. The paradox in this veil of darkness is that it shows us more after Psyche’s journey.

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