Of night and light and the half light

Some people claim that Homer wrote every story that ever could be, or that it’s all in Plato. I find all the words I need in Yeats, who, of course, I have to thank for letting me borrow a line of his for the title.

Of night and light and the half light

The skittering of loose pebbles
beneath the tread of unsteady feet,
and the slope yaws, slides
into a twilit gloom of uncertain light.

Hanging by a thread,
so we clutch,
even a straw will do.

It slops, fear, like filthy bilge water,
oil-dark and dead, filling the stomach
with reasons to retch.

But then, when the foul tide retreats,
and hands, tongues, paws, tails
say welcome back,

and the sand shines silver-gold,
bright as meadows and blackbirds,
when the fear dissolves
in mists of after-dream,

and the sun pours and pours and pours,
spreading peace like butter,
then, there is pure happiness.

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Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

13 thoughts on “Of night and light and the half light”

  1. But, you make it seem as though Yeats wrote this poem which I believe you wrote using a line from one of his poems as inspiration for your title, Your poem is so good that I believed it was written by Yeats, but by researching realized the truth. You deserve to make that clearer to your readers. A really exquisite poem.

    1. I didn’t think of that, assume everyone recognises Yeats, and the borrowed line would be obvious. It’s a lovely compliment, and if there’s a poet I would love to be compared to, even as a pale shadow, I’d be thrilled.

  2. So much inspiration in Yeats–I still remember the challenge you did years ago.
    This is lovely, especially that last stanza.

    But this also makes me think of The Lady of Shallot. Perhaps she’s still lurking.

    “when the fear dissolves
    in mists of after-dream,”

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