In a dark time

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood–
A lord of nature weeping to a tree,
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What’s madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall,
That place among the rocks–is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is–
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark,dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

                                         - Theodore Roethke

Of the many things I would like to have explained to me some time this week is: Why the heron and the wren?

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3 thoughts on “In a dark time

  1. Empty Chairs says:

    That poem is gorgeous!

  2. Hedgie says:

    “the heron and the wren”

    They live in two different environments, the heron marshy, swampy areas, the wren forest and cultivated land; the line which follows continues the same idea of two disparate environments: “Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.”

  3. That would seem to be it — no luck Googling herons or wrens as symbols of anything in particular. Still, it does work. Thanks.

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