In day of which the Norland sagas tell,
The Twilight of the Gods. The low-hung sky
Was black with ominous clouds, save where its rim
Was fringed with a dull glow, like that which climbs
The crater's sides from the red hell below.
Birds ceased to sing, and all the barn-yard fowls
Roosted; the cattle at the pasture bars
Lowed, and looked homeward; bats on leathern wings
Flitted abroad; the sounds of labor died;
Men prayed, and women wept; all ears grew sharp
To hear the doom-blast of the trumpet shatter. . . ."
So it was on May 19, 1780.
On May 19, 2013, with all of our vaunted communication abilities -- 24-hour television news, universal cellphones, Twitter, Facebook, the all-but-countless ways to stay in touch -- would such an event merit merely a shrug?
Would we figure out within minutes what was transpiring, and why, and would we wait patiently for the sun to reappear?
But consider what happens when the power goes out -- when, without warning, we lose artificial light. Consider the confusion and anger and uncertainty that often commences.
Would we really be calm and unconcerned if, just as suddenly, real light -- the sun's light -- without notice went away?
Or would our cherished communications tools spread rumors of conspiracies and attacks and impending doom? Would those tools create panic instead of prevent it?
Whittier, in his poem, wrote of the cessation of the day of darkness:
"And, shore-ward, o'er the waters gleamed,
From crest to crest, a line of light,
Such as of old, with solemn awe,
The fishers by Gennesaret saw. . . ."
Fear of the dark; love of the light. Some things change as the years pass. Others, we are from time to time reminded, remain eternal.
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