Solstice Duality

Posted on 6.21.2019 by Patrick Swanson


 Paddy Swanson 2019


The summer solstice reminds us that this is the season of light, the longest day of the year, the furthest away from the winter solstice and the beginning of our long slow cycle back into the dark.

 “Do you have to bring that up?” I hear you say. Yes, I think so, if you really want to enjoy the duality ride.

 I loved this Ros Chast  cartoon in the New Yorker:


I have a good friend, a clown, who collects shards of broken teacups and saucers and embeds them into mosaics of fish that illuminate her bathroom floor - the useless transformed into the sublime. Perhaps it is because clowns are liminal beings and stand on the threshold between the rational and the lunatic worlds that they can see both sides of reality – the light within the dark - the sublime within the trash.

Our old friend Jay O’Callahan , an Emily Dickinson fan, was recently musing on the magic of  “The cricket sang” - a “night” poem, which led me to another of hers -  a “day” poem. In the spirit of bathroom mosaic you can glue these fragments together to make a solstice poem that celebrates both the light and the dark.



The cricket sang,
And set the sun,
And workmen finished, one by one,
Their seam the day upon.

The low grass loaded with the dew,
The twilight stood as strangers do
With hat in hand, polite and new,
To stay as if, or go.

A vastness, as a neighbor, came,--
A wisdom without face or name,
A peace, as hemispheres at home,--
And so the night became.


There came a day at summer’s full

Entirely for me;

I thought that such were for the saints,

Where revelations be.


The sun, as common, went abroad,

And flowers, accustomed, blew,

As if no sail the solstice passed

That maketh all things new.


Emily Dickinson


Happy Solstice from all of us at Revels!