Poetry for the Eclipse
Because what astronomical holiday isn’t better if rounded out with a little poetry? Admire the massive forces at the edge of our daily living, and recite some beautiful poems into the crisp, shadowed air. As Mabel Loomis Todd, friend of Emily Dickinson, said, “I doubt if the effect of witnessing a total eclipse ever quite passes away… A startling nearness to the gigantic forces of nature and their inconceivable operation seems to have been established.”
by Robert Bly
“We shared chocolate, and one man from Maine/ Told a joke. Suns were everywhere—at our feet.”
Bly’s sonnet is casual and fun—good for the student and the class as much as for the family gotten together in the yard. Read Bly’s poem here.
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
“Sometimes such passionate love doth in her rise,/ Down from her beaten path she softly slips,/
And with her mantle veils the Sun’s bold eyes,/ Then in the gloaming finds her lover’s lips.”
This is a poem delivered right from the 19th century. A classic Petrarchan sonnet, Wilcox’s poem wriggles in the ear and nests there with its hard meter and rhyme. Read Wilcox’s poem here.
by Walt Whitman
“I wander’d off by myself,/ In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,/ Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.”
Leave it to Whitman to take us away from the charts and the graphs and the percentages. This immortal poem will always stand with us in those moments when the majesty of nature trumps our reasoning around it. Read Whitman’s poem here.
by Deborah Trustman
“Planets/ perfectly align for three long/ minutes, as long as a song”
Trustman writes gently of the eclipse, infusing the experience with the magic and wonder of a childhood story. Relax your critic’s mind, she seems to say, and feel the joy of a child’s eyes. Read Trustman’s poem here.
by William Meredith
“To keep the sky free of luxurious shapes/ Is an occupation for most of us, the mind/ Free of luxurious thoughts.”
We ask of the weather, and Meredith’s poem answers with thunder. Enjoy this dark and profound reflection on the history of our relationship with the sky and the stars and the mysteries thereof. Read Meredith’s poem here.
by Percy Shelley
“Art thou pale for weariness/ Of climbing Heaven, and gazing on the earth”
One of Shelley’s poetic fragments, these few lines are pleasure on the lips. Shelley writes a small, beautiful ode to the moon, in all her poet-projected loneliness. Read Shelley’s poem here.