Growing in the Dark
"Pain is filtered in a poem so that it becomes finally, in the end, pleasure." - Mark Strand
Artificial light is everywhere, we're obsessed with it. Orangey sodium street lights, increased lighting in advertising, football stadii and shops lit up all night, everywhere we go in towns and cities, the light is relentless. We prefer houses with large windows and many people consider any weather other than bright sunshine to be bad. Before we had so much technology most of us lived in natural surroundings in smaller houses with little windows to keep out the cold, but we got a lot more natural light by working outdoors for most of the day and rested in dimly lit, dark homes at night. I'm not idealising those times, there was a lot of hardship, but we seem to have gone too far the other way and have become blinded by science. It has been suggested that humans have grow taller because of a plethora of light; it seems that we physically grow towards it, as plants do to the sun. Blackout linings are becoming popular as people realise that they sleep better without those yellow lights shining through the curtains.
The problem with all this external light is that our inner light doesn't get the chance to grow and shine as it could. This happens mainly in the dark, in our sleep and dreams and in quiet contemplation. In this light-filled, sun worshipping world, we have forgotten the magic of the night and the moon. Older societies lived in harmony with nature's cycles and her seasons and this developed a different consciousness from the one we use today. It contained wisdom, respect for the intuition and a greater awareness of natural craft and creativity, much of which was necessary, as whatever was needed had to be hand-made, not purchased from shops like today.
And so it is with the arts, with each new creation the seed awakens deep inside, it is gestated in the dark, shaped, added to until it reaches its full growth, and only then is it brought to light. It's like a caterpillar in a crysalis, slowly turning itself into a beautiful butterfly or moth which can then soar into the sky, the pain transformed into the pleasure of freedom. Writing poems is similar, deep in the emotions and feelings, joyful or pained, the seed of an idea is quietly growning unseen, adding a rhyme here, a word there until there is a line and then whole lines unite to make verses which come together in the complete poem.
There is magic in this and often I look at a poem and wonder "How did that get there? Where did it come from?" The miracle of creating all new life is done in the dark, in an agg, a womb, a crysalis, so perhaps if we once more learned to love and embrace the dark we might delight ourselves with the treasures we find stored there. Then our inner lights will shine more brightly. We are all creative magicians, if we but knew it.