The Long and the Short of It

The short hours of winter daylight in northern climes have been known to drive some folk to madness. Such a visible reminder of brevity can be frightening. But it has its magical, lovely characteristics, too, not least of all in the extended reach of dusk backward into daylight hours, when the encroaching dark of a long night is preceded by a wash of sweet watercolor lengthening slowly, easefully across the sky. It begins barely past noon, the sun clinging to the horizon’s edge while rolling at this seasonally low angle to other parts of the globe. It often ends, it seems, with a snap of the sky’s lid into full darkness, but until then the whole afternoon has been suffused with yearning and attenuated gleam, the sky a pearl rather than the flat, undifferentiated blue of its cloudless expanse often seen on longer days.Photo: Sunset Begins

Sunset Begins

Sunset begins as dawn is barely ending,

The day a secret known to but a few

Who see such light without yet apprehending

That their mortality is old while new,

That death will follow birth in shorter seasons

Than anyone admits or likes to know,

Yet even such tight brevity has reasons

For relishing the afternoon’s brief glow.


Say this, if you would savor for its beauty

A life as short as sorrows make it seem:

That recognizing light remains a duty,

And relishing the colors of its gleam

A pleasure that entrances more compactly,

Succinctly, for the smallness of the day,

And teaches us to see such joys exactly

Within their span, before they fly away.


The moon, appearing ere the sun has faltered,

The sun chasing her tail toward the moon,

And all the stars that follow them, are altered

In sight because I know they vanish soon,

And I with them, but dream that time will lengthen

Enough to let me see another day,

Wiser for seeing afternoons that strengthen

And nourish me by coloring the way.


Sunset begins as I was barely crying,

Newborn, and night appears and quickly wins,

Yet even as I feel I’m fainting, dying,

I know life’s beauties when sunset begins.

16 thoughts on “The Long and the Short of It

    • There are certain kinds of light that make it seem quite opalescent and nacreous to me—I suppose more like my being *inside* a pearl than seeing its outside, considering the concavity from my perspective, but fitting the idea for me all the same. 🙂

  1. How beautiful, Cathryn! I think I can figure out where the picture is taken, and someone should put music to the words!

    • Belated thanks for your sweet comment, Eva! I shall have to get back to work posting, soon. I didn’t really intend to take such a long break, but it’s been a welcome hiatus, given how busy we’ve been with our move and all. 🙂 Miss you!

      If you know someone who can put music to these (or any other of my) words, I will be delighted and honored!!!

    • You are such a sweetheart, Diana. Thank you for your generosity! Many loving wishes to you for a blessed Christmas and a year full of joy with your two beloved menfolk, wherever you go and whatever you do. 😀
      ❤ ❤ ❤

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