After The Storms

South Shore Harbor ~ 5 July 2018


When the spent sun throws up its rays on cloud
And goes down burning into the gulf below,
No voice in nature is heard to cry aloud
At what has happened. Birds at least must know
It is the change to darkness in the sky.
Murmuring something quiet in her breast,
One bird begins to close a faded eye;
Or overtaken too far from his nest,
Hurrying low above the grove, some waif
Swoops just in time to his remembered tree.
At most he thinks, or twitters softly, “Safe!
Now let the night be dark for all of me.
Let the night be too dark for me to see
Into the future. Let what will be, be.” 
                               “Acceptance”  ~  Robert Frost



Comments always are welcome.


41 thoughts on “After The Storms

  1. I’ve heard about your weather. Weird as all get out this year. Rain down there. Hot as all get out in the north and east. The photo is beautiful, Linda. I need to tack that poem to my wall!

    1. Long stretches of hot, humid days broken by violent thunderstorms is a typical summer pattern here. The lightning in this week’s storms was beautiful, if a little unnerving, and we needed the rain. If only we could teach people not to drive into flooded intersections.

      I’ve always enjoyed that Frost poem. I think of it from time to time when I see one of my doves lingering longer than I think it should, and then flying home in the near-dark.

    1. Indeed. You’re reminded me of the conclusion of Tennessee Williams’s remarkable essay, “The Catastrophe of Success”:

      “William Saroyan wrote a great play on [the] theme that purity of heart is the one success worth having. ‘In the time of your life—live!’ That time is short and it doesn’t return again. It is slipping away while I write this and while you read it, and the monosyllable of the clock is Loss, loss, loss, unless you devote your heart to its opposition.”

    1. It took me a while to learn that the best color and the most compelling skies often appear after the sun has dropped below the horizon. This photo was taken a full ten minutes after sunset — it was delicious watching the slow change in the clouds, realizing that the best was yet to come!

  2. Our sunsets haven’t been quite as impressive. It seem we are always directly under the clouds that are giving you the color… Beautiful shot. Impressively matched with the poem.

    1. Thanks, Gary. What’s really fun is to see photos of the same clouds or the same sunsets posted by people I know in Houston. The line from Judy Collins about looking at clouds “from both sides, now” certainly applies. Sometimes I get the color, and they get the gray. Sometimes, they get fantastic rays, and there’s nothing here but an ordinary glow. It’s the luck of the atmospheric draw, and I got lucky with this one.

    1. Most of the time, I end up taking sunset photos from my balcony, so my ability to position the lighthouse is limited. I have to shoot a bit “up,” as well, in order to avoid trees, sailboat masts, and so forth. As the year progresses and the sun moves to the south again, I’ll have to find some other locations, since by fall it will be setting directly behind a big hotel and conference center.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the image. I do love sunrises and sunsets — and moonsets in the winter, when the moon moves in to take the place the sun holds now.

  3. It is a gorgeous photo. We’re getting rain now, on top of the roughly 2 inches early in the week. I never complain about rain in summer.

    1. What’s that old saying about every cloud having a silver lining? I’ll see your silver lining, and raise you a glorious red, orange, and gold one!

      I’m glad you’re getting rain, too. Even though it caused a few problems here, most of the problems were a result of human thoughtlessness, and even people who wished their July 4th plans hadn’t been washed out usually added an aside to their complaints: “Of course, we do need the rain.”

    1. Sometimes, even we flatlanders get lucky, Terry. There are summer realities I’m not fond of — mosquitos and heat come to mind — but we do have glorious clouds, rolicking thunderstorms, and beautiful sunsets to help make up for the negatives. This one outdid itself, I’d say.

    1. I suppose one of the best things about that sunset is that it was created by the clouds that brought our rain. It not only was beautiful, it was part of a very welcome event.

      Not every poet is everyone’s cup of tea: no question about that. I did have to grin at your comment about Cummings, though. E.E. may not have been very thrilled with Frost, but I never was very thrilled with Cummings — despite being quite fond of a few of his poems.

  4. You’ve showcased a lot of good poetry on this blog, I hadn’t read this one before. “…goes down burning into the gulf” reminds me of a contrasting poem, by Dylan Thomas, diametrically opposed to “acceptance” – – “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
    You sure get some spectacular skies in the west. One of my grandmothers, who lived in Penna. and NY most of her life, moved to a senior living place in Utah during her final twelve years, and always exclaimed over the thrilling sunsets in the Wasatch Range.

    1. I understand your grandmother’s affection for the Wasatch mountains and their sunsets. I lived in Salt Lake City for a year and enjoyed them myself; my only regret is that I didn’t take more advantage of the opportunities around me. I did quite a bit of hiking into the canyons, but that was a long time ago, and I was far less interested in the natural world.

      Thomas’s poem does make quite a pair with Frost’s, doesn’t it? You probably know that “Do not go gentle…” is a villanelle: a poetic form that I’ve tried, though never very successfully. For a fascinating rendering of the poem, check out Iggy Pop’s reading. I respond to the poem quite differently than I did fifty years ago, but I still can appreciate it.

  5. Sunsets are the best in own country, always. However, changing home- countries a confusion erupts and depending on preferences, things become a bit muddled.
    Is my Dutch sunset (a mere memory) best, or that of Finland even better? What about the Australian sunset? Mid-summer. With the blue haze of distant bushfires even better?

    1. Maybe it’s not a matter of good-better-best, but of difference. Even here, there’s a difference between our winter and summer sunsets, so it makes sense that sunsets in one place would differ from those in another. Sunsets at sea always are different from those on land, and alpenglow never would be confused with the hot, golden glow of a sun setting through Saharan dust or bushfire smoke.

      I like to imagine collecting sunsets, like rare jewels. Each certainly shines in its own way.

  6. That red sky is in keeping with the heat we’ve been having. My electricity bill was higher than the proverbial giraffe’s ears this time. Somewhat concerned as we are barreling down into the dog days, which is the deep trough of heat we always seem to have in August, and I’m not looking forward to it.

    I was also reminded of that old rhyme about red sky at morning, sailors take warning; red sky at night, sailor’s delight.

    1. People may scoff at weather related folk wisdom, but it’s grounded in reality. The red sky’s significance is just one example. There’s a pre-hurricane sky, a rain-will-be-here-soon sky, and a no-rain-for-a-while sky: and of course there’s the ring around the moon. Count the number of stars you see inside that ring, and you know the number of days until rain — or so they say. I suspect at this point you’re both ringless and starless.

      I laugh every now and then at my goal of not working in August this year. June was as August-like as could be. Perhaps we should hope for an early fall. It could happen. One year we sailed back to Houston from Brownsville on a north wind — on August 10th. We can only hope.

  7. A glorious sky definitely worth taking the time to wait for and to appreciate. Love also the positioning of the lighthouse.
    In times past I’ve lived where I got better chances to see the sunsets, but at least I do get glimpses of them here.
    The poem was new to me, and some lines in there I really enjoyed…. must explore some more of his work soon.

    1. Frost is an interesting poet. Most people know a few of his poems (at least they used to), but his work’s far more varied and interesting than I ever knew in school. Some poets are like the midwestern landscape. You can drive straight through and think, at the end, that there wasn’t a thing worth seeing. It’s not the landscape that’s at fault.

      One neat trick for watching sunrise or sunset in a complicated landscape that doesn’t allow for a clear view is to turn 180 degrees and see what’s happening on the other side of the sky. There are times when the sun’s rays will put on a good show behind our backs.

  8. The image well describes tranquility and silence. The poem well depicts what ‘Acceptance’ truly is. So difficult to understand in real life. ‘Acceptance’ is something one wrestles with. I don’t know why. It may be the restlessness and inclination to change things overnight and compulsion to live in the future. Precisely at night, one is usually ruminating about how everything should be different the next day, the expected ‘change’ to take place.

    1. It’s interesting that you mention ruminating about reshaping the future, at night. Many people I know go the other direction, and spend long nighttime hours worrying over the past, regretting what was or wasn’t. Carl Sandburg’s poem “Four Preludes To Playthings Of The Wind” is a fairly grim poem, but I’ve always enjoyed this first stanza, which seems realistic, rather than depressing:

      “The woman named Tomorrow
      sits with a hairpin in her teeth
      and takes her time
      and does her hair the way she wants it
      and fastens at last the last braid and coil
      and puts the hairpin where it belongs
      and turns and drawls: Well, what of it?
      My grandmother, Yesterday, is gone.
      What of it? Let the dead be dead.”

      1. That’s right, probably the compulsion is more common when it refers to the past, and how beautiful does Carl Sandburg put it! In my case in goes back and forth from past to future and vice versa, as much as I’ve read on the art of mindfulness and living in the present.

        1. I suspect we all experience that. Some events trigger memories, and we muse over the past. In other times, the pressures of living impinge, and we experience anxiety or excitement about the future. It’s the pendulum effect, lived out emotionally.

  9. After the storms, safety at South Shore Harbor, is what the tiny lighthouse says to me. How beautifully the poem and your photo complement each other. I am thinking about the dark passage the young boys in Thailand have to negotiate to reach safety. At times it will be too dark for them to see.

    1. Of course, the meaning of a lighthouse depends entirely on context. Seen from shore, it’s easy to romanticize its beam. Seen from offshore, even in fair weather, it’s pure warning of rocks, shoals, or other obstructions. Granted, the lighthouse helps guide the mariner to safety — but only if you know on which side of the lighthouse to pass! That’s part of what makes the rescue of the boys (eight, now, I believe) so gripping. It’s not just their circumstances that are riveting, it’s also the skill of the men who know how to navigate those waters.

  10. Gorgeous photo, Linda, and the poem is ideal for it. The weather has been strange everywhere this year, hasn’t it? We typically get several days of heating up, followed by a nice storm and a few cool, dry days. Instead, what we’ve received are weeks of hot, humid days, followed by strings of stormy, rainy days, repeating in a cyclical manner. My plants look awful, but the corn looks amazing, ha!

    1. June was quite windy, and we’ve already had more rain than usual for July, but I’m not going to complain about rain in summer. Parts of the state continue to be very dry, and despite the flooding from Hurricane Harvey, rain is welcome. Four more months, and we’ll be past hurricane season for the year — at least, we hope so.

      The corn harvest will be starting soon, and some second cuttings of hay already have come in. I still can’t quite believe such an early corn harvest — not after growing up in a place where “knee high by the 4th of July” was the standard!

  11. That is such an atmospheric photo, love it. Great poem too. Oh, your weather sounds horrific, we are having a heatwave here, no rain in over a month, just parched brown land

    1. You know, we did have some remarkable storms, but they’re common here in summer. It’s interesting that they can be quite localized, too. The night the big storm rolled through my area, there wasn’t much rain at all in Houston, just twenty-some miles away. There have been afternoons when I’ve kept right on working in the sunshine, while watching clouds dump rain on all sides.

      Those isolated showers have been roaming around, and nearly everyone has had some rain, now. I hope you have, too. I read a couple of stories about the effects of your heat, and none of it sounds at all pleasant.

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