Sunday, June 16, 2024

Glimmerings, and disappearing stars, at the window

In my last post, "Every man and every woman is an ape," I used a line from "A Visit from St. Nicholas" -- "when what to my wondering eyes should appear" -- for no particular reason. It just popped into my head as I was writing. In "Stars in Animal Skins," William Wright points out that in the poem, this line comes just after the narrator goes to the window:

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer,

William thought this might have been intentional on my part, a reference to recent "go to the window" syncs, but it wasn't.  So that's yet another "go to the window" sync! As I read this excerpt, my thought was that it was also a Cherubim reference. The Hebrew cherub is believed to derive from the Akkadian karibu, which I assume would be a near-homophone of caribou, another name for the reindeer.

Looking up the poem now, I find that other parts of it are also synchronistically interesting:

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

"To the top of the wall" ties in with the Humpty Dumpty theme. Dry leaves blowing away in the wind appear in my June 13 post "Plates among the dead leaves."

My most recent "go to the window" reference was "Go to the window; it's dark but clear," which refers to Lowdham going to the window in The Notion Club Papers. In his post, William mentions that this is only the first time Lowdham goes to the window, and that "the second time he will begin to re-enact events surrounding the Fall of Numenor." I didn't know that because this is my first time reading The Notion Club Papers.

Today I read a few chapters in 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon. This verse in particular stood out to me:

And there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land (3 Ne. 8:22).

I took special notice of this because the language reminded me of the Yeats poem "The Song of Wandering Aengus." The poem mentions stars disappearing -- "moth-like stars were flickering out" -- and the appearance of a "glimmering girl." It ends with "The silver apples of the moon, / The golden apples of the sun." Thus I noticed the word glimmer -- which appears nowhere else in the scriptures -- juxtaposed with the sun, the moon, and disappearing stars.

After reading that, I turned to The Notion Club Papers and soon came to Lowdham's second time going to the window. Guess what word Tolkien just happens to throw in at that moment?

He strode to the window and flung it open.

The early summer night was still and glimmering, warmer than usual for the time of year.

Then several other club members join Lowdham at the window, where they see great mists of darkness causing the stars to disappear:

We were all startled. Several of us went to the window and stood behind Lowdham, looking out. A great cloud, coming up slowly out of the West, was eating up the stars. As it approached it opened two vast sable wings, spreading north and south.

After that, I checked the blog of Bruce Charlton -- who has made The Notion Club Papers an object of special study -- and found that his latest post quotes a Rupert Brooke poem that mentions the night before Christmas:

And things are done you’d not believe 
At Madingley on Christmas Eve.


William Wright (WW) said...

Don't forget the symbolism of both snow and the moon outside of the window in 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, which brings to my mind that schoolwork dialogue you shared about Joan and Joe.

Claire (Joan), represented by or associated with the Moon, had been outside wishing to show Joe that there was snow outside. In the Christmas poem, the man does indeed both see the Moon and the snow that the Moon promised was there once he runs to the window. You also have the imagery of the Moon appearing to shine like the Sun ("gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below").

That mention is interesting to me since on my end I have associated Claire also with Pharazon, or his story. In my theory, Pharazon my be the same Being as Gim Githil (the Moon), but on Numenor as Pharazon he was said to shine like the Sun. It even used this same word "Mid-day" to describe how he shined:

"In gold finery he covered his nakedness, gilded in sunlight so none could withstand him at mid-day..."

Lustre, the word from the poem to describe the Moon's apparent shine at mid-day, is said by Etymonline to be particularly associated with "the radiance in a textile material or fabric".

I didn't think through this or look into it at all over on my blog because, as you said, I didn't know if you intentionally quoted this line. But now that I know you didn't, this connection now came to my mind as well - thus this longer comment as I am thinking through real-time.

Also, you have specifically associated October with Christmas in discussing Pumpkins and the story of Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin. Tying the Joan-Joe-Window dialogue (in October) further into this, and in light of the poem, Joan may have not just been alluding to snow on its own, but what that represented: Christmas and Redemption, and perhaps a journey back to the top of the wall.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

As math nerds know, Oct 31 = Dec 25.

How beautiful upon the mountains are their feet!

In his July 21 post " Twister, 'The Extreme', and Shine On ," William Wright mentions a couple of Book of Mormon passages ...