Sunday, September 27, 2015

Mass of the Moon Eclipse

Lunar Eclipse, photo by Howard Brannen
The Lunar Eclipse going on today is extraordinary, and I just had to re-post this beautiful poem.  This is a cosmic event that could also be known as a Rite of Passage for many.  Denise Levertov imagined the Eclipse as not a phenonomena, but a Mass, a celestial event that moves us all in its orbit into the sacred. Blessed be.


Not more slowly than frayed
human attention can bear, but slow
enough to be stately, deliberate, a ritual
we can't be sure will indeed move
from death into resurrection.
As the bright silver inch by inch 
is diminished, options vanish,
life's allurements. The last silver
lies face down, back hunched, a husk.

But then, obscured, the whole sphere can be seen
to glow from behind its barrier shadow:  bronze,
unquenchable, blood-light.  And slowly,
more slowly than desolation overcame, overtook
the light, the light
is restored, outspread in a cloudless pasture of
spring darkness where firefly planes
fuss to and fro, and humans
turn off their brief attention
in secret relief.  No matter:  the rite
contains its power, whether or not
our witness rises toward it;
grandeur plays out the implacable drama
without even flicking aside our trivial
absence, the impatience with which we
fail to respond.

                And yet
we are spoken to, and sometimes 
we do stop, do, do give ourselves leave
to listen, to watch.  The moon,
the moon we do after all
love, is dying, are we to live
on a world without moon?  We swallow
a sour terror.  Then
that coppery sphere, no-moon become once more
full-moon, visible in absence.
And still without haste, silver
increment by silver
increment, the familiar, desired,
disregarded brilliance
is given again,

given and given.

Denise Levertov, "Mass of the Moon Eclipse"
from This Great Unknowing:  Last Poems
1999, New Directions Press

1 comment:

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Beautiful poem! She captured it all.