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Day 2, Poem 2

There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields –
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden,
Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum:
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come!

The way I read the poem, it is about two states of being: the one her brother is in, and the one she is inviting him into. They are words I would like to say when a friend is depressed, but I usually don’t, because what good would it do? They already know that not everyone is shadowed by gloom. Maybe she didn’t utter hers aloud either.

In some places, this poem is titled “The Cloud Withdrew From The Sky.” ED almost never titled her poems, and most editors who are compelled to title them just use the first line. Whoever chose this title imposes their own interpretation. It’s an interpretation that suggests that she was also under a cloud and now it’s gone, and I don’t see any support for that in the poem. Actually, its only references to the passage of time say outright that this state of sunniness never changes: “Ever serene and fair,” “ever green,” “Where not a frost has been.” All of which makes me think that she is referring not to happiness (hard to imagine ED asserting that melancholy never strikes her), but to love and acceptance he may find with her, or perhaps to the presence of God.

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Photo by Kevin Burkett, Creative Commons Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons

The excitement about the blue moon leaves me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the moon is doing exactly what it always does. Every 29.5 days or so, it comes to the full, and the fact that it has done it twice this month is simply an artifact of the artificial calendar. Invent a solar “month” to intersect with the lunar month, and occasionally there will be two full moons in the 30- or 31-day period we have designated. It isn’t bluer than usual, it doesn’t look bigger or brighter or any different than any full moon. It’s just the moon. There have been nine full moons this year. There will be another one next month.

That’s the curmudgeon grumbling. On the other hand, I’m delighted to see my Facebook feed and other media streams so intent on getting us to look at the moon. It’s like my moon-phases watch, which is no substitute for the actual moon, but reminds me to stop looking at clock-time and calendar-time and turn my eyes to our beautiful sister planet now and then.

My own feeling whenever I look at the moon is that I’m very lucky to live on a planet that has one. Many don’t. (If offered a trip to another planet, I’d ask to go to one that has more than one satellite. That sky would be a sight to see.) One of the loveliest surprises of my life was the first time I turned a pair of binoculars on the moon. I had had no idea that there was anything much to see without a telescope. All the ridges and craters were unexpectedly beautiful, and yet they’d been there all my life. Like discovering that Grace Kelly had been following me around all that time and I only had to look over my shoulder to see her up close.

And of course, I’m always glad of an excuse to listen to Billie Holiday.

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