Posted by Meriel Swain on (comments: 0)
A Vast Similitude Interlocks All
In tech speak, that'd be 'connectivity' or more simply, what binds us together.
I began by thinking about 31 October and Halloween. Here's how I ended up with 'connectivity'.
It went something like this..... 'everyone talks about Halloween, be different.... look ahead ..... Ah, All Saints Day on 1st November....... Aaaah! All Souls Day on 2nd November ....... how are they connected ...... no, how are WE connected ...... connections and reflections ........ how are we bound together?' It's sort of like a linear equation, but not quite.
I'm very reflective in November. We are driven that way by Remembrance Sunday. But it really begins with the fun celebration of Halloween. All those mischievous spirits whose souls escape on 31 October when the gap between this world and the next is at it's slimmest. We are good at celebrating that element, but less so at remembering All Saints Day and All Souls Day, which fall on the following two days. What you'll realise is that I am a 'sometime' Christian, and these dates are in my mind as a result of faith schooling.
The three days, sometimes referred to as Hallowtide, connect us to the spirit world, or universe, through the celebration and remembrance of the living and the dead. Walt Whitman, the great American poet, captured this universal connection beautifully in his poem 'On the beach at night alone'. Here it is:
"On the beach at night alone,
As the old mother sways her to and fro singing her husky song,
As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef of the universes and of the future.
A vast similitude interlocks all,
All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets,
All distances of place however wide,
All distances of time, all inanimate forms,
All souls, all living bodies though they be ever so different, or in different worlds,
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes, the fishes, the brutes,
All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages,
All identities that have existed or may exist on this globe, or any globe,
All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future,
This vast similitude spans them, and always has spann’d,
And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enclose them."
Sometimes, we lose our place in the Universe, and we lose our connection to the people around us. We feel isolated and alone. I just wanted to let you know that no-one is ever alone.
Many years ago I used to sing in a big choir in London. My first performance at The Proms was of The Sea Symphony by Vaughan Williams. He set the poetry of Walt Whitman to music, the most beautiful movement of which is called 'On the Beach at Night Alone'. If you've got 10 minutes to spare, listen to this recording I found on YouTube. There's about a minute of silence at the start, don't know why, but stick with it. It's very beautiful. Every time I hear it I feel connected.