The Shadows Carry the Whole Story

In 2016 the poet WS Merwin wrote:

Brightness appears showing us everything

it reveals the splendors it calls everything

but shows it to each of us alone

and only once and only to look at

not to touch or hold in our shadows

And though he was writing about what he called “The Wings of Daylight,” the mood here captures something quite lovely with regard to what happens during a solar eclipse.

By now it should go without say that there are few spectacles in the natural world that are as dramatic as a Total Eclipse of the Sun, an event that happens with rhythmic regularity, although not always over such heavily populated areas as this one on April 8th.

For me, what is most striking is the way the shadow falls because, though the Earth is turning east, giving the impression that the Sun is traveling west, the path of an eclipse shadow goes eastward, with the Earth, but much faster than the Earth. This might seem like an insignificant thing, which direction a shadow falls, but when it happens during an eclipse it reveals that the cosmic harmony out there is so intimately embedded in our sense of things as to be unconscious in us, so much so that even the slightest, momentary alteration of what we think is immutable, like the rotation of the Earth, defies our capacity to make sense of it ~ and this is the thrill!

At the end of his poem, Merwin wrote:

everything will leave us except the


but the shadows carry the whole story

at first daybreak they open their long wings.

See you in the shadows,


Hear this episode of The Storyteller’s Night Sky Monday morning, April 8 on Interlochen Public Radio, and on podcasts everywhere, at anytime. Cover image is a 14th century English manuscript depicting the phases of the Moon. A Solar Eclipse happens when the Moon’s at New Phase.