Live Virtual Group Session: 7pm EDT May 29th 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

With participants from, Canada. England, India, and in the U.S., New Hampshire, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, California and elsewhere, we discussed Walt Whitman’s “On the Beach at Night,” posted below.  Beginning with the image of father and child holding hands under the night sky, the poem seemed to participants to expand into a recognition of great loss, and then a sorrowful affirmation of “something there is,” a mystery that will sustain us, bring hope after the “ravening clouds” have “devour[ed] the stars,” or at least, provide comfort to a crying child.  The rich discussion pointed to the intimate relation of father and daughter –and to the face of human mortality confronting the infinite. 

The prompt, “Write about what will shine out again,” elicited a wide range of responses, some identifying small signs of comfort and hope, some bringing humor to the subject of inequity and acknowledging that in our world things have never shone for all of us.

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Please join us for our next session Sunday, May 31st at 1pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

We look forward to seeing you again soon!

On the Beach at Night
by Walt Whitman

On the beach at night,
Stands a child with her father,
Watching the east, the autumn sky.

Up through the darkness,
While ravening clouds, the burial clouds, in black masses spreading,
Lower sullen and fast athwart and down the sky,
Amid a transparent clear belt of ether yet left in the east,
Ascends large and calm the lord-star Jupiter,
And nigh at hand, only a very little above,
Swim the delicate sisters the Pleiades.

From the beach the child holding the hand of her father,
Those burial-clouds that lower victorious soon to devour all,
Watching, silently weeps.

Weep not, child,
Weep not, my darling,
With these kisses let me remove your tears,
The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious,
They shall not long possess the sky, they devour the stars only in apparition,
Jupiter shall emerge, be patient, watch again another night, the Pleiades shall emerge,
They are immortal, all those stars both silvery and golden shall shine out again,
The great stars and the little ones shall shine out again, they endure,
The vast immortal suns and the long-enduring pensive moons shall again shine.

Then dearest child mournest thou only for Jupiter?
Considerest thou alone the burial of the stars?

Something there is,
(With my lips soothing thee, adding I whisper,
I give thee the first suggestion, the problem and indirection,)
Something there is more immortal even than the stars,
(Many the burials, many the days and nights, passing away,)
Something that shall endure longer even than lustrous Jupiter
Longer than sun or any revolving satellite,
Or the radiant sisters the Pleiades.

6 thoughts on “Live Virtual Group Session: 7pm EDT May 29th 2020

  1. “Where’s your candle?” You snuffed it out. Too dangerous?
    You’ll start a fire said the father.
    You must be more careful said the mother.
    So, I am a good boy here in the darkness where there are no need for shadows.

    “Yet your light shall shine again.
    For the world grows darker and the light grows in you.
    Your light will shine again.
    See, from the embers, the flames are already rising.”

    Liked by 3 people

  2. al3793

    You’ve been putting on quite a show in that northwest spring sky
    whether a sliver, quarter, half-super waxing or waning
    you invite such company.

    Pollux and Castor were there Tuesday
    lined up horizontally next to you
    two eyes peering down
    onto the earth

    I wonder what they thought as they looked and
    saw the fury of smoke rising to cloud the sky?

    I saw Venus settle on St. Francis’ shoulder one night but
    now she’s shuttered below the horizon.

    And that golden halo that surrounded you on Wednesday
    was soft, and warm enough
    to dry away tears.

    May 29, 2020

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What shall shine out again?

    The day is grey, black skies hovering above.
    Storm coming, threatening life’s sense of calmness.
    The mind is troubled, the spirit downcast.
    How shall the spirit rise above when all threatens its existence?

    Pounding rain falls from the heavens,
    but there are breaks in the thick, grey blanket covering the sky.
    Clouds slowly retreating and a glimmer of sunshine pushes its way through.
    A glorious rainbow spans the sky above,
    bringing joy to Mother Earth and to the spirit of mankind.

    How much must we endure before the cloud layer lifts?
    How long must we wait to see this glorious rainbow?

    Liked by 1 person

    • al3793

      I am warmed by the glimmer of sunshine that “pushes its way through” the retreating ravening clouds. You take us through the storm, encouraging the reader that we can get through, and the rainbow you describe reminds us that in the order of things, beauty can return…blessing walks with darkness. Andre

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Candle Chat

    [Two Candles of two different colours, of unequal lengths, of unequal thickness, of different brands enaged in luminiscent whispering.]

    C1: Do you think we will have to burn for them for a long time?
    C2: No. They usually rise when the sun shines in the east.
    C1: What if it becomes shy to shine one fine dawn?
    C2: No. It can’t do that. It’s like the automatic timer of the air conditioner these descendants of Sisyphus possess.
    C1: I am tired of burning for them. I have been sweating wax for 9 hours now.
    C2: Don’t worry. Their celestial ray of hope shall shine at any moment.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. al3793

    Swati, I love this conversation between the two “inanimate” candles, simple sources of light and how their days are driven by the cycle of night and day juxtaposed with the technological intricacy of the a/c timer. Their brief conversation is not simple, to be “shy” about shining at dawn, or fatigued by “sweating wax for nine hours”. The narrative invites the imagination and places hope in humanity. Andre


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