(153) “It was as if all the stars in heaven had settled in around them.”

We are stardust

We are golden

We are million year old carbon

And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden

–Joni Mitchell

The title of this blog is the ending line of yesterday’s blog.

When I was preparing my “Fireflies” blog, I kept checking the “Year of Being Here” site for the daily poem. But it wasn’t being posted.  Somehow, I just knew it would be relevant to my blog.

Later, the poem showed up in my Facebook newsfeed.  It is called “The Silence of the Stars” by David Wagoner. It is a little narrative about how the bushman in the Kalihari Desert can hear the stars singing to them. And when they meet someone like you or me, they are amazed that we cannot hear the stars.

I loved the connection between the book I was reading and the song “Fireflies” and the poem about the stars. It takes me back to my favorite Ralph Waldo Emerson quote:

If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.”

Since I became acquainted with the Emerson quote, I cannot look at the stars the same way.  I cannot see them without thinking about how glorious they are to see — much like the fireflies that blink on and off in other parts of the country (but not where I live now — kinda miss them!) Something about that light shining in the darkness, oh so far away. Or close by, as the case with lightning bugs.


The Wagoner poem adds that new dimension. Emerson is telling us to be childlike in our appreciation of nature.  Wagoner does the same, by reflecting back to earlier experiences with the stars:

When the traffic dwindles, when through streets

Are between sirens and the jets overhead

Are between crossings, when the wind

Is hanging fire in the fir trees,

And the long-eared owl in the neighboring grove

Between calls is regarding his own darkness,

I look at the stars again as I first did

To school myself in the names of constellations

And remember my first sense of their terrible distance,

I can still hear what I thought

At the edge of silence where the inside jokes

Of my heartbeat, my arterial traffic,

The C above high C of my inner ear, myself

Tunelessly humming, but now I know what they are:

My fair share of the music of the spheres

And clusters of ripening stars,

Of the songs from the throats of the old gods

Still tending even tone-deaf creatures

Through their exiles in the desert.

After this contemplation of the book and the poem and the song, all I can say is now I will never look at the stars again with humming the music that is contained in my soul, the carbon spirit from that explosion years ago, which created the human musical spirit. It is mine. It is yours. It is alive. Awake in the darkness.


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