When Light Begins to Dim

When light begins to dim and color fades,
the shape of things begins to matter more.
An edge defines, the angles hint, and shades
of layered grays I never knew before
come faintly first to rinse the unsunned sky
of what remembrance holds of hue and tone
then heavily the last of twilight dies,
falls underground, fine-winnowed, hushed, and lone.
In time we grow familiar with the night.
The eye will tune to nuance, silhouette
and shadow when the dying of the light
is put away; then vision turns complete
and in the hollow of the night we find
the lucid line.



James Green is a retired university professor and administrator. He has published five chapbooks of poetry and individual poems have appeared in literary journals in Ireland, the UK, and the USA. His previous works have been nominated for “Best of the Net” and the Modern Language Association Book of the Year, and his chapbook titled Long Journey Home: Poems on Classical Myths won the Charles Dickson Prize sponsored by the Georgia Poetry Society. His website can be found at www.jamesgreenpoetry.net.

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9 Responses

  1. g.KayeNaegele

    A beautifully phrased description of the descent into night. I’ve always personally felt the depth of existence lives in the greys of light and dark and feel esence, the “lucid” line is to be found there. Enjoyed, well done.

    • James Green

      Thank you! Emerson wrote that everything concrete is a metaphor (or words to that effect). You seem to recognize that the space between light and dark can have multiple layers of meaning as well as varied tones of gray.

  2. Sally Cook

    First thing, I thought this was a poem about losing one’s sight. Does that enter into it? You have some remarkably fine and subtle comparisons and definitions in this poem. I do hope you will send more.

    • James Green

      Honestly, I did not write with that in mind. I meant to use the physical qualities of twilight as entry to the space between the conscious state and the subconscious state. Another reader has commented elsewhere that he reads it as a passing from one one state of life to another. What I like about poetry is that the reader engages in the creative process along with the poet.

  3. Julian D. Woodruff

    “… to rinse the unsunned sky / of what remembrance holds …”: this stream of words would make any poet envious.

    • James Green

      Thank you for your kind words. Twilight gives us a lot to work with, doesn’t it?

  4. Cynthia Erlandson

    Beautiful description of something hard to describe! It’s like a painting in words. “come faintly first to rinse the unsunned sky” is my favorite line.

    • James Green

      Many thanks for your comment. The “faintly first” phrase came about in response to the demand of meter. What I like about formal verse is that the form can become the energy for finding an inventive turn of phrase. Of course, I also have written more than my share of clunkers while trying to adhere to a form.


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