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“the glory is fallen out of / the sky the last immortal / leaf / is // dead and the gold / year / a formal spasm / in the // dust / this is the passing of all shining things” … into the night so dark no night could be darker than, the cold so cold, no cold could be colder than; the journey through “The mile still left when all have reached / Their tether’s end: that mile / Where the Child lies hid.”
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overmaster it. But neither has light overmastered the darkness: lights do not shine in darkness unless darkness predominates; when there’s mostly light, we see the darkness as residual shadows, not as the ambient state.
Darkness is in one sense the enemy of God, of Christ who is Light, whose dawn at Easter irreparably shatters the dark of death and hell, the light of the eighth, eternal day, shining for all days before and after:
I first encountered Tenebrae at a Lutheran church, conducted, with German efficiency, all at once on Maundy Thursday night. Just as it grew dark, the congregation entered a sanctuary lit by two candelabra. As the story of the Last Supper and Passion was read, interspersed with gloriously dirge-like hymns, and maybe a motet by the […]
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