Tuesday, April 25, 2006


sundials & lilacs

I had mentioned wanting to speak of Mayer's sundial epigram. It sounds very Classical as well as brain-teasing, does it not?:

i know a sundial has no moving parts
some lilacs don't bloom either

(Scarlet Tanager, p. 11)

One wonders, at first, how each and every sundial can be considered a failure like a lilac that does not bloom.

But then you can consider that the blooming of a lilac, or any other flower, is a dynamic action that is a fitting response to the Earth's revolution that brings a hemisphere thereof Spring when that hemisphere is closer to the energizing Sun and its (apparent) invigorating motion.

The thought of this epigram is that human time is most properly tracked by an instrument that in some way moves, because our world of time is based on the sweeping arc of the sun we experience.

If this is so, this poem complicates any sense we may have that it is always the latest inventions that alienate us most from the Cosmos.

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