No.8: ‘There’s a certain Slant of light’ (Emily Dickinson)
There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –
None may teach it – Any –
‘Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –
When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –
– Emily Dickinson
And here are some links.
The light and dark are wound round each other like lovers, like snakes, like gladiators.
I shall remember while the light lives yet
And in the night I shall not forget.
Cathedrals, aslyums: they’re closer than we think.
It’s getting dark, too dark to see.
Feels like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.
lightnings and thunderings and voices; angels as divine enforcers, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea; holiness as terror
drones of majestic hurt that lasted forever
It’s just that something means more when you can’t quite get hold of it.
And with that goes our devotion and despair.
Yes, we have been chosen in the furnace of affliction. We’re alive.
We were always dreaming but trifles light as air have a way of transmuting themselves into horrid shapes and shrieks and sights unholy.
When the hit is visited upon the oppressed – those who are forced into a world that is not theirs – the imagination erupts: sudden, flowing, incandescent. It doesn’t fit in with the world that preceded it and surrounds it. Its implacable lava floods the old world so that all that is left is a landscape where strange plants grow in protected jars, overshadowed by mountains that glow and pulsate in the dark.
But then listening is itself a discovery, a kind of making: multiplying what is unified, unifying what is multiple. We do it all the time.
I remember how the darkness doubled.
I recall lightning struck itself.
I was listening, listening to the rain.
I was hearing, hearing something else.
Everything that has a shape also has a shadow. And we’ve got both. We go back and forth between the two, revealing and concealing.
This is the hit as deliverance. It has no concern with the ordinary scale of things: the laws of nature and the processes of time. It starts entirely beyond them and keeps going. It is not of this earth and refuses to be constrained by human limitations. This is why harm and death precipitate themselves in and out of this world – like shadows, like dragons.
We are not talking here about something you’ve found but something that found you. Something that takes your breath away as soon as it hits you.
This something is prowling the universe looking for places to strike. Actually, it doesn’t look – it just strikes.
High plains drifter, looking down on the curling smoke below. High in blood and life, he stands up for the main soldier, whose quality, going on, the sides of the world may danger.