[Azure sky over Winter Hill – picture from the author’s collection]
For this entry, the subject is light. Not light as in humorous or trivial, not light as in the opposite to heavy, light as in energy, colour, illumination. This was prompted by being awake for the sunrise, a particularly colourful dawn during the recent spell of fine weather. Early Spring/late Winter means I wake in time to see the Sun come up. Soon, I will be waking to full daylight again, unless I stay up all night, not unknown! We’ll begin with a poet I’ve championed before, the wonderful Du Fu who writes so beautifully of that shower in the dawn and then of the smell of early rain.
A slight rain comes, bathed in dawn light.
I hear it among treetop leaves before mist
Arrives. Soon it sprinkles the soil and,
Windblown, follows clouds away. Deepened
Colours grace thatch homes for a moment.
Flocks and herds of things wild glisten
Faintly. Then the scent of musk opens across
Half a mountain — and lingers on past noon.
Du Fu 712 – 770
[Sunrise, Bolton – picture from the author’s collection]
For my own piece, I wanted to present three contrasting skies. Sunrise, afternoon sun and the sunset shining on a storm. Not often I write longer poems so please excuse any mistakes! I included this poem before I remembered I am including audio reading now too, so I now need to read it through without errors! For those who missed out, kaylie is a kind of multi-coloured sherbet sold in sweet shops. I well remember the large glass jars full of this glorious powder and the keen anticipation as the shopkeeper poured it into a paper bag!
Dark yellow, ochre? like a sandstorm on the horizon.
Brightening, heating, building to orange
as the dawn works the bellows.
The light claws and heaves itself,
over the rooftops, up and up.
Touch of crimson now, burst of scarlet, as it wakes.
Nearer and nearer to the moment when
the giant climbs into the sky.
Ascending red, yellow, finally blue.
Until the shining one spreads azure over all.
Light on the curtains as my eyes come back to life.
Morning, afternoon? no clues in the sleep dulled brain
All quiet, no noise, no birdsong but the windows are shut.
The clock is no help, 4:00? four what? am, pm?
There’s a shadow dance on the curtain,
as sunlight plays with the tree branches
waving at, who knows what?
Finally, the brain wakes enough to know,
bedroom window, looking West
Afternoon light, on curtains
Steel gray wall, rising over the town.
Lit by the low Sun, towering, like the
side of a battleship, moored at the house.
Rolling, roiling cloud, building its fury.
Feeding on the dying light,
using the Sun, to power the fury.
As it raises the hammer, for Thor’s spark
and the crash, shaking the walls,
in the opening of the storm concerto.
The hail released, rattles roof and window
and the cloud rushes to overtake, the dying Sun.
[Sunset during a storm over Winter Hill, picture from the author’s collection]
A poem about light from Dylan Thomas now. One of my poetical heroes. Chock full of Celtic lyricism and emotion. His qualities shine with every word. This one is more mystical than most, almost like listening to the wind as you stand where the druids stood, understanding the universe and yourself.
Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines
Light breaks where no sun shines;
Where no sea runs, the waters of the heart
Push in their tides;
And, broken ghosts with glowworms in their heads,
The things of light
File through the flesh where no flesh decks the bones.
A candle in the thighs
Warms youth and seed and burns the seeds of age;
Where no seed stirs,
The fruit of man unwrinkles in the stars,
Bright as a fig;
Where no wax is, the candle shows its hairs.
Dawn breaks behind the eyes;
From poles of skull and toe the windy blood
Slides like a sea;
Nor fenced, nor staked, the gushers of the sky
Spout to the rod
Divining in a smile the oil of tears.
Night in the sockets rounds,
Like some pitch moon, the limit of the globes;
Day lights the bone;
Where no cold is, the skinning gales unpin
The winter’s robes;
The film of spring is hanging from the lids.
Light breaks on secret lots,
On tips of thought where thoughts smell in the rain;
When logics die,
The secret of the soil grows through the eye,
And blood jumps in the sun;
Above the waste allotments the dawn halts.
Dylan Thomas 1914 – 1953
[The Brecon Beacons, close to Dylan Thomas’ hometown, Swansea – picture from https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/alarm-small-group-lost-brecon-11174043 ]
I’ll finish this entry with James Joyce. Better known for his classic stories, Joyce was also a lyrical poet with a fine touch. His words are even better read aloud, a lovely rhythm to them and excellent word choice, as you’d expect from one of the all time great novelists.
My Love Is In A Light Attire
My love is in a light attire
Among the apple-trees,
Where the gay winds do most desire
To run in companies.
There, where the gay winds stay to woo
The young leaves as they pass,
My love goes slowly, bending to
Her shadow on the grass;
And where the sky’s a pale blue cup
Over the laughing land,
My love goes lightly, holding up
Her dress with dainty hand.
James Joyce 1882 – 1941
[ Charles Courtney Curran, Woman in a White Dress in a Garden – picture from: https://www.paintingmania.com/woman-white-dress-garden-207_26627.html ]