Friday, August 25, 2017

Poetry Friday -- For our Star

One of my brother's colleagues used a colander
to capture this stunning eclipse image.

Choose Something Like a Star
By Robert Frost

O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud—
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.
Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says, ‘I burn.’
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.
It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats' Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid. 
(emphasis mine)

Was your Eclipse Day all you'd hoped it would be? Here in Central Ohio, we had, naturally, "some obscurity of cloud." Nonetheless, we experienced the dimming (similar to what comes with summer thunderstorms) and we could see the bite of the moon's shadow using the pairs of glasses we borrowed from a couple of support staff who came out while we were trying to get our pinhole viewers to work. We're looking forward to 2024, when Totality will be just north of us. (That is, if we manage to hold our planet together that long.) On one of the eclipse videos we watched, the narration ended by reminding us that rocks cast shadows on other rocks throughout the cosmos all the time. It's just that on ours, someone is here to notice it.

Jone has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Check It Out.


  1. Anonymous7:17 AM

    I don't recall the crescent shadows during an eclipse. I know what I'll be looking for next time!

  2. What a clever idea to use a colander, Mary Lee. Sounds like your experimentation on the Eclipse Day was fun for all. These lines stood out in the poem: Use language we can comprehend.
    Tell us what elements you blend. (wise advice)

  3. I am loving the colander eclipse! And the fact of rocks casting shadows on other rocks all the time... kind of like the old "if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to see..." thing. I think the thing for me is to remember to choose something like a star again and again and again, each day. xo

  4. Oh yes, exactly. I totally get the bolded part at the end. Nature has been a great solace to me in recent months.

  5. Lovely, Mary Lee. The colander picture is amazing! I tried it with no success here--perhaps the fact that the colander was metal and sent up a blinding glare was the problem...I also love those final bolded lines and the thought about rocks casting space shadows all the time. Great post!

  6. Nice emphasis! 🌠 Happy Friday!

  7. Perfect post and poem choice for this week, Mary Lee - and what a great picture! Today I wrote about my eclipse experience, which did have "some obscurity of cloud" but not enough to hide the magic. Also, I brought in Blake rather than Frost to help make sense of the cosmos and our culture this week. Thanks for sharing!!

  8. Great choice! This is a Frost poem that I am not familiar with.

  9. I read this yesterday, a new one to me, but Frost seems prescient in it, "So when at times the mob is swayed/To carry praise or blame too far". Thanks for sharing and the comments about the "rocks" too, Mary Lee.

  10. This is why I come to Poetry Friday - to read posts like this and discover poems new-to-me. I love the colander crescent moons and your bolded words in the Frost poem. I totally missed looking for the shadow images. Next time I'm planning to head to OK. My brother says we can drive to totality from his place.

  11. Gonna get me a colander to bring to Ohio in 2024! (Have faith--the planet will still be here. Choose a star to stay your mind...)

  12. I wish I had known about the colander trick. I enjoyed the eclipse with two different groups of kids through a box. Frost had it right when he wrote, "We may choose something like a star
    To stay our minds on and be staid."

  13. Lovely poem for these days. Those ending lines got me. I missed this eclipse, but am looking forward to the next one, which should be right over us for totality. It's already on my calendar!

  14. Love that Frost poem you shared, Mary, and the photo of eclipse through a colandar. We had a cloudless sky and I viewed the marvel (88% obscurity here) through a little pinhole camera I constructed out of a shoebox. It felt like the whole world was stopping to take a look!

  15. Alas the eclipse wasn't all that spectacular around these parts, but there was a wonderful party atmosphere downtown as crowds gathered to watch together, which was lovely!

  16. We had about a half-eclipse in a clear sky, and viewed it through a cereal box pinhole, then used a borrowed pair of glasses. We were on a college campus in town and it was so wonderful to hear the silence of large groups of people, as they sat on the grass just staring in awe.
    I was around for the total eclipse in '63, and am looking forward to 2024! I think I'll keep my colander handy.

  17. Anonymous6:45 AM

    What an amazing photo! I was at a workshop and missed the whole thing. Thank you for sharing Frost's wise words. Some days it's very difficult to "stay" my mind, but focusing on "something like a star" certainly helps. Here's to 2024!

  18. I'm always reading new Robert Frost poems. He wrote so many! The photo made me smile. I saw an eclipse in Kenya as a child, and we did this colander thing too. I was just reminiscing about it with my brothers this week.

  19. When I read the bolded lines, I wondered when Frost had written the poem. I checked online and found a whole range of dates--1916, 1943, 1946. I suppose every era has its mobs being swayed, but it didn't answer my question. I decided to wade into in my paperback copy of The Poetry of Robert Frost: The Collected Poems, Complete and Unabridged. I didn't find the poem "Choose Something Like a Star," it is listed as "Take Something Like a Star" in the section "An Afterword" from Complete Poems: 1949. It's the same poem. I'm confused and now must go off to solve this bit of puzzlement! (Mary Lee, you can't do this to me!)

  20. What a lovely, lovely poem. I'm glad you are off to solve the puzzlement.....because now I want to know!If 1949 was the year, I suspect that Frost was seeing the growth of anti-communism.

  21. "It's just that on ours, someone is here to notice it." Yes, and fortunately a few poets to ponder and record the event for posterity, as well!

  22. The eclipse was only about 60% obscurity here in NH, and although the sun seemed a tad more dim than normal, there really wasn't anything spectacular about it. I much prefer Frost's poem! "Say something to us we can learn"...indeed.

  23. What a great combo, the photo and the the poem. We had clear skies and we saw shadow snakes.

  24. I hope our planet is still here in 2024–but I'll speak from the moment of now–thanks for Robert Frost's "Choose Something Like a Star," perhaps we all need to do more star gazing–what a timely piece this poem is. Thanks for the poem and the wonderful pic too Mary Lee!

  25. Love this poem and image.


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