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john savoie 08-09-2017 09:50 PM

eclipse poems?
I teach at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. The first day of the fall term is 8/21, the same day the eclipse will be passing right over head. Besides the syllabus, on the first day of class I usually share a bit of content to whet the students' appetites. So I'm looking for something pertaining to eclipses.

That morning for Great Books, Homer to Milton, I may go with Milton's Satan and his "glory obscured" (pasted below), though we won't get to Paradise Lost till Thanksgiving. Does anyone recall something relevant in Homer? (Usually I go with Keats' After Reading Chapman's Homer.)

I'll also be teaching Intro to Poetry, mostly non-majors. Are there any tidy lyrics on eclipses? In the past I've gone with Blake's Sick Rose to intrigue them.

Paradise Lost 1.589f

Thir dread commander: he above the rest
In shape and gesture proudly eminent [ 590 ]
Stood like a Towr; his form had yet not lost
All her Original brightness, nor appear'd
Less then Arch Angel ruind, and th' excess
Of Glory obscur'd: As when the Sun new ris'n
Looks through the Horizontal misty Air [ 595 ]
Shorn of his Beams, or from behind the Moon
In dim Eclips disastrous twilight sheds
On half the Nations, and with fear of change
Perplexes Monarchs. Dark'n'd so, yet shon
Above them all th' Arch Angel: but his face [ 600 ]
Deep scars of Thunder had intrencht, and care
Sat on his faded cheek, but under Browes
Of dauntless courage, and considerate Pride
Waiting revenge: cruel his eye . . .

Mark Blaeuer 08-10-2017 12:26 AM

1) Wordsworth's "The Eclipse of the Sun, 1820" runs for 84 lines. I'm not sure whether that qualifies as tidy.

2) Willis Barnstone's translation of a relevant Archilochus fragment is on page 29 of his Greek Lyric Poetry (second printing, 1975).

RCL 08-10-2017 12:29 AM

Check out this by Donne:

John Isbell 08-10-2017 12:34 AM

Robert Bly and Ann Lauterbach have recent eclipse poems which aren't bad.


Jan D. Hodge 08-10-2017 07:48 PM

Two poems who play with Greek myth in discussing a solar eclipse:

"A Solar Eclipse," a sonnet by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

"Solar Eclipse," by Seigfried Sassoon (If you Google this and find it on "Poem Hunter," turn the sound off. The reading is dreadful--read as if each line stood alone as a separate chapter in a novel "asterisk asterisk asterisk asterisk" [sic])

Aaron Poochigian 08-10-2017 11:47 PM

The best eclipse poem is the first eclipse poem. Archilochus on April 6th, 648 BC:

“Nothing is unexpected, nothing is foresworn and
nothing amazes now that father Zeus the Olympian
veiled the light to make it night at midday
even as sun was shining: so dread fear has overtaken men.
From this time on everything that men believe
will be doubted: may none of us who see this be surprised
when we see forest beasts taking turns in the salted field
with dolphins, when the echoing waves of the sea become
dearer to them than the sand, and the dolphins love the wooded glen…”

χρημάτων ἄελπτον οὐδέν ἐστιν οὐδ’ ἀπώμοτον
οὐδὲ θαυμάσιον, ἐπειδὴ Ζεὺς πατὴρ ᾿Ολυμπίων
ἐκ μεσαμβρίης ἔθηκε νύκτ’, ἀποκρύψας φάος
ἡλίου †λάμποντος, λυγρὸν† δ’ ἦλθ’ ἐπ’ ἀνθρώπους δέος.
ἐκ δὲ τοῦ καὶ πιστὰ πάντα κἀπίελπτα γίνεται
ἀνδράσιν• μηδεὶς ἔθ’ ὑμέων εἰσορέων θαυμαζέτω
μηδ’ ἐὰν δελφῖσι θῆρες ἀνταμείψωνται νομὸν
ἐνάλιον, καί σφιν θαλάσσης ἠχέεντα κύματα
φίλτερ’ ἠπείρου γένηται, τοῖσι δ’ ὑλέειν ὄρος.

(fragment 122)

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