“Guard yourself from the terrible empty light of space, the bottomless pool of the stars.” I was struck by this sentence by Robinson Jeffers this evening as I walked home under a very clear sky—the twilight made me melancholy, being a mellow pink. Above all, I was struck by the great black mystery that lay, so it seemed, to either side of me. The mystery extended upwards, into the very blue sky—its emptiness went on and on, and it seemed to echo in my body. I felt the great iceberg melancholy and also great trepidation.
We huddle by our screens so quickly, we close the doors on our homes—not just literally, but psychically as well. We are little better than nomads huddled over our little fire, afraid that the wolves will get us. However, it is not wolves, not anymore, what we fear is the mystery—the blackness to either side of us. It is so vast, so much without end—and contains so many possible terrors. We have to lock ourselves down, pretend our lives matter—our lives don’t matter; we could die tonight and nobody would care, not least the mystery. It’s all a little play we compose to avoid the mystery; face it and it will annihilate you.
Jeffers continues: “Faith, as they now confess, is preposterous, an act of will…faith will cover your head from the man-devouring stars.” The man-devouring stars—that was the phrase that echoed in my mind as I walked home under the clear sky. The sky went on forever and ever and soon it would be black and filled with stars—the blackness goes on forever, and the stars that stud the blackness may well devour you. To them you are so insignificant and you only have an intimation as to your insignificance when you look at the pellucid sky and feel the mystery that drops off to either side of you. “What am I living in?” It all falls away inside.