Friday, December 05, 2014

All natural shapes blazing with unnatural light

Behind the blue of a Sun-lit sky, hidden in the dark of night, invisible to our unaided sight, far off in the winding eddy of the Milky Way, a star-birthing nebula, NGC 7822, a seething cauldron of creation, 40 light-years wide, in which the Earth and all that we formerly thought as ours would be as a dust mote (click to enlarge). NASA's Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite teases grandeur out of darkness, forces us to face a universe of incomprehensible fullness. Powerful winds of stellar radiation sculpt banks and pillars of gas. Worlds are born. We gape, awestruck, like Dante in Paradise; WISE is our Beatrice. We say with Dante, "O how scant is speech/ Compared to what I still recall my words are faint." Call in the poets:

In a Dark Time
By Theodore Roethke

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood—
A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What’s madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.
That place among the rocks—is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is—
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.