Wednesday, April 19, 2006
An Invocation At The Outset
Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields
See how these names are feted by the waving grass
And by the streamers of white cloud
And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
The names of those who in their lives fought for life
Who wore at their hearts the fire's center.
Born of the sun, they traveled a short while towards the sun,
And left the vivid air signed with their honor.
- Stephen Spender
And thus does this new venture acquire a name, one most appropriate as Spender's words and ideas pluck at "the mystic chords of memory," as Lincoln so aptly phrased it.
What I hope to do with this isn't completely clear to me at this point. For a person widely regarded as gregarious and social, I have always been intensely private about the kinds of things that have found their ways into my sporadically-kept journals over the decades. And yet - I had considered naming this "Words in the Wind" or something of the sort - as if casting random thoughts into a cyber-universe that has by some reports over thirty million active blogs was the equivalent of singing on a deserted trail in the northern Rockies or on a remote lake in the Northwest Territories.
But if Spender is right - then the sky at least does listen, or will listen if the words like the names he celebrates are animated by a sense of honor. Writing here is the same kind of act of faith that motivated the scientists of SETI with their radio messages or of JPL with the plaque that they flung beyond the outmost bounds of the solar system.
Maybe no one will hear, maybe no one will see - but the acts themselves are an existential affirmation -
a signing of the air, if you will, with a hopeful grasp at honor.