Thursday, November 03, 2005

The transformation

A while back I was complaining (me, complaining?) about the weather and the lousy fall we've had this year.

Well, it's still fall, although just the tail end of it. Most of the leaves are gone, and the rest have turned a sort of brownish-rust. But that seemingly endless string of rainy days has finally ended.

I try to walk every day, usually at an oceanside park near my house. Even during the three-week run of rain and gloom, I walked there regularly, except for the days when it was actively pouring. I'd see a few other stalwart souls and their dogs--the Labs rather happy, the smallish dogs in a snit at having to be out in such nasty weather. We'd often exchange comments about the weather, the weather, the weather (myself and the dog owners, that is).

Even the ordinarily lovely park appeared monochrome. The usual kites were nowhere to be seen. The gray sky matched its twin, the gray sea, and everything else looked muted and featureless. It wouldn't have been so bad if it had just been a gray and rainy day here and there, but this spell lasted so long that I think we nearly forgot what things would look like were the sun to shine again.

The day the sun came out, I noticed the colors first of all. The landscape didn't even look familiar. Same walk, same scene--but now, the brilliant blue sky was reflected in the sharply blue ocean with its white waves standing out in contrast, almost glowing in the late-afternoon light. The slanted sun made the grass, still green, look nearly phosphorescent.

It's still that way, fortunately--so we get a little bit of fall, after all. The whole thing is a lesson in the transforming power of the sun.

Out of curiosity, I just did a Google search for poems about the sun, and this one by John Donne came up. I'd never read it before, and it's really not all that apropos to this post, since it's more about love than it is about the sun. But I still think it very fine, so here it is:


Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late schoolboys, and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices,
Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

Thy beams, so reverend and strong
Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long:
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and tomorrow late, tell me
Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear: "All here in one bed lay."

She is all states, and all princes I,
Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compar'd to this,
All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, sun, art half as happy 's we,
In that the world's contracted thus;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy centre is, these walls, thy sphere.


At 2:47 PM, November 03, 2005, Blogger Sissy Willis said...

Shivers . . . I had read it once, a long time ago, but like your seaside sun after that run of all gray all the time, it makes everything sparkle anew.

At 3:00 PM, November 03, 2005, Blogger Meade said...

Thanks, neo... made my day!

At 7:02 PM, November 03, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely poem, yes. But in the spirit elicited by the gloomy weather, wouldn't it be more appropriate to appeal to good news: Mark

Good Gnus

When cares attack and life seems black,
How sweet it is to pot a yak,
Or puncture hares and grizzly bears,
And others I could mention;
But in my Animals "Who's Who"
No name stands higher than the Gnu;
And each new gnu that comes in view
Receives my prompt attention.

When Afric's sun is sinking low,
And shadows wander to and fro,
And everywhere there's in the air
A hush that's deep and solemn;
Then is the time good men and true
With View Halloo pursue the gnu;
(The safest spot to put your shot
is through the spinal column).

To take the creature by surprise
We must adopt some rude disguise,
Although deceit is never sweet,
And falsehoods don't attract us;
So, as with gun in hand you wait,
Remember to impersonate
A tuft of grass, a mountain-pass,
A kopje or a cactus.

A brief suspense, and then at last
The waiting's o'er, the vigil past;
A careful aim. A spurt of flame.
It's done. You've pulled the trigger,
And one more gnu, so fair and frail,
Has handed in its dinner-pail;
(The females all are rather small,
The males are somewhat bigger).
P. G. Wodehouse (“Unpleasantness at Bludiegh Court”)

At 10:04 PM, November 03, 2005, Blogger pst314 said...

Into the distance disappear the mounds of human heads.
I dwindle--go unnoticed now.
But in affectionate books, in children's games,
I will rise from the dead to say: the sun!
--Osip Mandelstam

"Mandelstam was last seen in December 1938, rooting through a garbage heap near Vladivostok. He had ventured some remarks critical of the Soviet government, which drolly illustrated his error by sending him to Siberia to be starved and beaten to death."
--Gene Wolfe

At 5:03 AM, November 04, 2005, Anonymous Paul said...

I walk everyday ( 25-30 minutes in the morning ) and rain can present a propblem , but I work around it. I like the atmosphere and the conversation after my walk. I have gotten to know several people and their dogs. My younger brother perambulates with me. :)

At 7:14 AM, November 04, 2005, Blogger Wayne said...

...when it was actively pouring. I'd see a few other stalwart souls and their dogs--the Labs rather happy, the smallish dogs in a snit at having to be out in such nasty weather. We'd often exchange comments about the weather, the weather, the weather (myself and the dog owners, that is).

Oooooh, the owners. I really thought you were exchanging pleasantries with the Labs until you cleared that up.

I can't resist communicating with dogs--even other people's dogs. And Labs: now they're my kinda people.

Since you enjoy retriever weather, you'd have that in's the extra layer of fat, you know (the retrievers, that is).

At 7:24 AM, November 04, 2005, Blogger SteveR said...

"... it seems like years since it's been here,

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,

And I say,

It's all right!"

At 10:03 PM, November 04, 2005, Blogger Meade said...

SteveR: The Quiet Beatle... less prolific than L&Mc, but his were the finest lyrics...

"Sunset doesn’t last all evening
A mind can blow those clouds away
After all this, my love is up and must be leaving
It’s not always going to be this grey

All things must pass
All things must pass away
All things must pass
None of life’s strings can last
So, I must be on my way

And face another day..."

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