Promethean Heat #poetry #earthweal

Put out the light…But once put out thy light
I know not where is that Promethean heat 
That can thy light relume’ (Shakespeare, Othello, 5.2.7-13)

Lightning blinds us
then shows us
the world in negative:
the whites of our eyes darkened and
the black, alight with ire

A lightning flash
can down a tree
or be the blue touch-paper
to tinder-box dry earth
kindling a forest fire

Put out the light
and we are left in darkness:
but a darkness so profound 
reveals the stars
hidden by artifice

Til we become 
pilgrims again
beneath the heavens
broader than our burdens, and far
vaster than the sum of our desires

If a lightning bolt could stop our
hyperactivity long enough
we might even begin to see
we are that untamed part of nature we
in fighting hard to tame
neglect to be

© 2022 All Rights Reserved.

Image by Kanenori from Pixabay

Written for earthweal

For this week’s challenge, Lightning Falls, Brendan calls on us to:

interrupt our usual programming with flashes and booms of this extraordinary power. Lightning falls: what are we going to make of that?

I already had a poem in mind, having spent the weekend under canvas, and seen the stars and Milky Way in all their beauty and clarity for the first time in years. We claim that streetlights prevent crime, but what thief could take more from us than the heavens we steal from ourselves with our addiction to artificial light? The revelation came like a lightning flash to me.

36 thoughts on “Promethean Heat #poetry #earthweal

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  1. “we are that untamed part of nature we
    in fighting hard to tame
    neglect to be”… i love this line powerful and true

  2. What a lovely poem, Ingrid. Loved it all.
    And what you say about street light warding off crime. What crime? There is no crime in darkness.
    I wrote a poem about that recently on Medium. Excerpt for you:
    There is no crime
    for when the watchman descends,
    all boundaries disappear:
    outlines of houses and buildings fade
    mountains and forests subsume into umbra
    intoxicated, they surrender
    and Earth reverts to
    her ancient shape of one whole
     — sheltering all in a tender embrace

    >>The watchman being Night of course. And then Night hands over the priming to Day. And Day keeps the oath.
    So really, what crime?
    Sorry… got carried away. 😉
    Lovely poem, Ingrid. Blessings.

    1. That’s a beautiful poem Selma! Can you send me the link? I can’t keep up with Medium on top of all my other commitments, but I would love to read this! 🙏

  3. Beautifully said, Ingrid. The negative image that lightning reveals–both physically and metaphorically.
    And how lovely that you got to see the stars in a dark sky!

  4. I recently read a book about light pollution, which is getting worse and worse. To truly experience lightning, we need to be able to accept the dark. (K)

  5. Such a wonderful poem Ingrid!
    “but a darkness so profound
    reveals the stars
    hidden by artifice”

    and that last stanza… a lightning bolt moment for sure! 💖

  6. Beautifully said, Ingrid! How wonderful you could star gaze.

    I couldn’t agree more about the street lights, Ingrid. We are never able to watch the night sky because of the artificial lights.

  7. So much wisdom in this poem – the planetary pilgrims, the untamed part of nature we most need to tame. Glad you saw the sky unfettered. Once on a small island, I saw the sky as it is without lights from below. It was breathtaking.

  8. we are that untamed part of nature we
    in fighting hard to tame
    neglect to be –

    Excellent ending to the poem. Infuses it with all the meaning necessary.

  9. A poem that holds truth to our untamed nature. Under a Maine sky I saw the stars without light pollution sparkling across the night sky. I think we forget how beautiful darkness can be.

  10. This is gorgeous in the purely poetic sense, Ingrid, but also full of nuance and meaning. Your preface quote is a strong beginning and you never let it down, from “..the black, alight with ire,” to “broader than our burdens,” even the simplest phrase builds depth and feeling. I agree completely about the loss of the heavens to artifice, and as each year the stars grow dimmer out here in the sticks as the nearby city gets larger, I see less and less of that amazing beauty above us in the night sky. I’m glad you got a chance to see it, and to let it make this poem shine.

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