Monday, March 10, 2014

Parable for Daylight Time & Lent

First Sunset of Daylight Savings Time
" . . . traveling from day to night only, neither forward nor sideward . . . "

First divesting ourselves of worldly goods, as St. Francis teaches,
in order that our souls not be distracted
by gain and loss, and in order also
that our bodies be free to move
easily at the mountain passes, we had then to discuss
whither or where we might travel, with the second question being
should we have a purpose, against which
many of us argued fiercely that such purpose
corresponded to worldly goods, meaning a limitation or constriction,
whereas others said it was by this word we were consecrated
pilgrims rather than wanderers: in our minds, the word translated as
a dream, a something-sought, so that by concentrating we might see it
glimmering among the stones, and not
pass blindly by; each
further issue we debated equally fully, the arguments going back and forth,
so that we grew, some said, less flexible and more resigned,
like soldiers in a useless war. And snow fell upon us, and wind blew,
which in time abated — where the snow had been, many flowers appeared,
and where the stars had shone, the sun rose over the tree line
so that we had shadows again; many times this happened.
Also rain, also flooding sometimes, also avalanches, in which
some of us were lost, and periodically we would seem
to have achieved an agreement; our canteens
hoisted upon our shoulders, but always that moment passed, so
(after many years) we were still at that first stage, still
preparing to begin a journey, but we were changed nevertheless;
we could see this in one another; we had changed although
we never moved, and one said, ah, behold how we have aged, traveling
from day to night only, neither forward nor sideward, and this seemed
in a strange way miraculous.
And those who believed we should have a purpose
believed this was the purpose, and those who felt we must remain free
in order to encounter truth, felt it had been revealed.

BY LOUISE GL√úCK, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
and author, most recently, of A Village Life

This poem appears on the New York Times list of six poems for the end of daylight savings time, along with others by W. S. Merwin and Vijay Seshadri; Mary Oliver, James Tate, and Derek Walcott. It is a fascinating assortment of poetry that I have already referred to a few times, all just right for the shift in time and light that occurs each November. I think, however, that Gluck's "Parable" is, if anything, even more perfect for the beginning of dayight time, as well as the beginning of Lent.

Daniel Bosch at Arts Fuse comments on Gluck's poem (and the other five) without even grasping the connection that "falling back" refers to the annual conclusion of daylight savings time and the reversion to standard time. Duh! He wonders if he missed "some sort of equinox" or "sunspots." No! You just missed re - setting your clock to match the season!

Rather unkindly, Bosch suspects that admirers of Gluck's "Parable" "do not know as many poets as I do." Yet I wonder if perhaps he does not follow the passing seasons with the same verve and precision as Gluck, Merwin, Oliver, and I do.

P.S. Some closing thoughts
from Leonard Orr & Nova Languages
9 November 2010

Len: You are right; I read it in the times and thought it was great to find such a grouping of poems in the major newspaper. Now if only they did this regularly not only for seasons but for each month, major events, solstices and equinoxes, the start and end of Daylight Savings Time, elections, New Year's, the release of the new press of Beaujolais, TuBishvat, and dozens of other occasions.

Nova Languages: I completely agree. I especially like the idea of a group of poems celebrating solstices and equinoxes; but also for many other astronomical events, not to mention planetary events. What a great way to learn about these things! This brings to mind these often quoted lines from William Carlos Williams: "It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there."

Len: That sounds much better than the Times motto "All the News that's fit to print." Even there they would have been improved by consulting poets.

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