PALMETTO POEM: Eclipse 2017

Eclipse 2017

By Marjory Wentworth, contributing editor

Astronomy flourished at the dawn of civilization;

between the Tigris and Euphrates, Babylonian

astronomers watched the skies closely.

We have the records. When heavenly signs appeared,

the ancients were both fascinated and terrified.

Watching a celestial dragon devour the sun,

the Chinese foretold the future of the Emperor,

banging pots and drums to scare the creature from the sky.

Although many believed in bad omens, The Prophet Mohammed

described cosmic spectacles as a demonstration of Allah’s might.

While ancient Greeks accurately measured angles

of shadows cast at noon on the summer solstice,

estimating the earth’s circumference, Archilochus,

the poet soldier, wrote that nothing is beyond hope,

and anything is possible while the light of the shining sun

hides at mid-day and the world plunges into darkness.

What will we believe, when we stop our days

to watch the barely perceptible dent in the sun, widen

into an arc, casting a stripe of shadow across the earth?

As the fiery ring of the corona shimmers in darkness

and the stars and planets appear across the silence

that must be endless, we would be wise to bang pots

to keep the dragons away and chant the Greek meaning

for the awe inspiring event, abandonment, abandonment.

Charleston Currents contributing editor Marjory Wentworth is poet laureate of South Carolina.


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