LYRIC COMPANIONS Linda Gregg “A Dark Thing Inside the Day”

From A Book of Luminou Things, Ed. Milosz

CONTEXT I am not arguing quite, so to say, for a pan(en)theism, but there’s is much to be said for considering the sacred charge on the being there of being as fleshed incarnation, itself saturated with value, aesthetically ontological. There is something of the pagan in this is, to be sure, but this is a paganism in which a certain love of the earth comes forth. William Desmond, The Intimate Universal, 255.

Lyric seems to encourage an innate idealism. We live in the best possible world. The world is charged with positive energy and it courses through us. Linda Gregg’s poem, introduced by Milosz in his anthology A Book of Luminous Things as a poem of “now,” brings us close, as he says, to communicating our immediate perceptions.

She’s subtle about it. Grammar is key, as is the full realization of the lyric narrative. There’s an unusual openness to her intentions. She’s giving us what we want: the human ideal, the “good,” universal and graspable without even thinking about it.

So the opening openly states the givens of the narrative: we want to be “lifted”— it goes without saying, and the fact that she’s saying it may give us pause. Along with innate desire for happiness we have an innate awareness of the otherness of things. There is always a shadow cast by Luminous Things. She plunges into the immanence of our desire to block the other that would question our innate desire to be lifted.

She describes her situation (that’s how the lyric narrative goes ahead after breaking the ice). Notice some small touches: easy, in the sound, hidden, still, green, up the street. She trusts our willingness to play along, we know the lyric drill.

The poem drifts inward. The sound coming from UP the street is the sound of hammering mixed with the sound of doves continuing their cooing “forever.” The hammering sounds blend with the plurivocal now of desire and hope and constructive energy. The man wants a new house, of course he does, and he knows how to get one. He hammers away. Mixed with the sound of hammering and cooing further UP comes with the sound of bees doing their thing is “a brilliant clear sky.” Some days you can see forever. Lift!

The inner world of sound and light that has built up in the writer’s now also smells of roses. Had to get that in for the narrative to turn because the sense of smell is the most immanent of all, the perfume of all things connects the now with indeterminate things, memories of memories. She executes the turn seamlessly: “Everything desirable is here already in abundance./And the sea.”

The sea! That too in the inner/outer mix of everything good hidden/exposed for us! There, “under the sheen,” “hardly visible,” the sea. Easy to overlook this largest and darkest of luminous things!

The catalogue constructed by the writer’s inner/outer, down/up itinerary is now and complete and any suggestion of difference is pushed aside. “We sleep easily.” The abyss does NOT HAUNT the best of all moments. The writer, who notices the darkness under the sheen, keeps her secret.

“All the flowers are adult this year,” she says. What’s that? The moment is a year of fulfillment. We are all “adults” now and forever. We know the drill. The poet finishes her song with a conclusive sounding conclusion. It’s the least she can do.

Author: Tom D'Evelyn

Tom D'Evelyn is a private editor and writing tutor in Cranston RI and, thanks to the web, across the US and in the UK. He can be reached at D'Evelyn has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. Before retiring he held positions at The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard University Press, Boston University and Brown University. He ran a literary agency for ten years, publishing books by Leonard Nathan and Arthur Quinn, among others. Before moving to Portland OR he was managing editor at Single Island Press, Portsmouth NH. He blogs at and other sites.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: