Crepuscular, Poetry and the Declaration of Independence

Last night—actually early this morning—I awoke with a poem in my head like I often awake from a dream. I was tired and all I really wanted to do was to go back to sleep. But the more the words ran themselves across the pages of my mind the more I realized that I would never remember the thought come morning and at that point slowly raised myself out of bed and into my chair in the living room.

The poem in mention is still in process and not quite ready for prime time—but here it is.

As I lie in bed this early morning
unable to sleep—I listen in the dark to the early autumn rain.

I think of the difference between the seasons
and how during the spring and summer, we invite the weather in
and the times we lie naked on top of the sheets
after making love.

Since we have invited the summer in, it is almost like we are lying outside
in the warm summer night.

And now, as the evenings grow cooler,
how nice it is to sleep underneath the sheets—the windows still open, but only slightly,
the weather outside not invited in as in summer,
but left to its separate season, alone and growing ever colder,
until the bedroom windows are tightly closed against the hand of winter
and all that frozen time.

After writing that in my journal, I read a new poet I discovered in New York during my recent trip to the city. The poets name is Lisel Mueller, a German-born American poet, essayist, and translator.

The word used by the reviewer on the back cover of her book “Alive Together” to describe one of her poems and the one that struck a chord in my mind is: crepuscular

—and is from the French and means, according to the Oxford English Dictionary I received for my anniversary:

1 Resembling the twilight of morning or evening; dim, indistinct; not yet fully enlightened. M17.

2 Of or pertaining to twilight. M18.

3 Zoology. Appearing or active by evening twilight. E19.

Right away you can ascertain that this is not a word that you or I would have used in the last several months in any conversation that we might have had. Yet it is a word that in and of itself penetrates the barrier between what we think on the surface of our everyday lives and who we are underneath all that we model to the world around us.

I often feel that I am not yet “fully enlightened” and that the world that surrounds me is sometimes “indistinct” and somewhat “dim”. What a perfect word—although hard to pronounce and remember during those intense lunchtime conversations with co-workers.

Even 1 Cor. 13:12 tells us that… “For now we see through a glass, darkly…” 

I suspect that is precisely why we need each other—no one has the full picture of the future or what is seemingly happening around us at this present moment in time. Obviously the current slate of politicians are at a loss as to how to fix any of the current crisis we find ourselves in as a nation.

They are not yet fully enlightened and I have it on good advice that wisdom comes from above—we are not going to fix things by simply adding a room to the foundation of what has already been built and seems to be rotting away as we speak. We need some new foundations—some new words to define and direct our paths into the future of you and me and yes—America.

We are in a twilight of sorts and need direction as to how to proceed. It is not a Republican or Democratic thing—but a challenge to every person and believer in this great nation.

In light of recent events and all the political garbage I see slathered across the pages of our papers, I had this thought: what is the truth in all of this that is happening around us—and can we know truth since it seems that everybody seems to have their own version of it. Then I thought of the Declaration of Independence and was reminded of a time when some very different people seemed to agree on the truth of a couple of very important things. The verse…”We hold these truths to be self-evident” rang out in my mind as an awareness seemed to build of a “truth” that was once held dear and agreed upon.

I know this has been a stretch, but in closing I will remind us of the first few sentences in that document that was signed on July 4th, 1776 and add that it is time we quit being the victims and start living the overcoming life we were no doubt designed to live.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of
Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted
among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these
ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to
institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and
organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely
to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate
that Governments long established should not be changed for light and
transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that
mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to
right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably
the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute
Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such
Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

And this seems to be the polar opposite to the definition of crepuscular….it is not indistinct and not dim but very direct and to the point.

This is our heritage and this is our poem.

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15 Responses to Crepuscular, Poetry and the Declaration of Independence

  1. Carey says:

    Well, that’s an unexpected, though refreshing, juxtaposition of images: in bed with the nippy autumnal breezes, and then–the failing foundations of government. The disparate images transcend rational thought and enter the realm of poetic warmth. And so I emerge from your dream-awakened ruminations (which were): “the weather outside not invited in as in summer, but left to its separate season, alone and growing ever colder, until the bedroom windows are tightly closed against the hand of winter and all that frozen time.” And somehow I emerge with this meditation upon slumbery thoughts: The “weather outside not invited in” must represent that chilly wind of impending worldy change; it whistles beneath the window sash, foreboding a bitter winter of dearth where formerly abundance had sheltered us from those frigid breezes. Yet we do still have rapt garments to outlast the blizzard of cataclysm that lies ahead: It is our raw and naked love, fertile and celebratory in all its God-ordained intimacy. Not to mention the Love of that One who granted the “unalienable rights.” Thanks for sharin’ your slumbery poems.C

  2. ded says:

    Terry, This is one of the best things I have read anywhere in some time. I appreciate the art of it, the historical call to something all Americans must regard with at least interest, if not deep regard, and the responsibility it places on the reader to responsibility in these times. Touche! Your words are soft, tough, and illuminating in the dimness.

  3. Terry Henry says:

    Now that you mention it—aside from my thought process which is often a leap from this to that without seeming stimulus—the point really is about “truth” and the different ways that it presents itself to us. And I guess passion and being in touch with our feelings and surroundings—all rolled up into a lump of dough and ready to be baked.

  4. Terry Henry says:

    Somehow I knew that you would understand.

  5. Beautiful imagery…nice segue as well. And I’ll have to dwell on “crepuscular” for a few days. I really like that word.

  6. Terry Henry says:

    Thanks for stopping by. I re-read the post and it really is a “trip”. What a ride.

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