Patiently waiting for the sun to rise,
the dial seems more dutiful than wise:
the sun, already up for hours, seems
a shrouded moon, so muted are its beams
Mist complicates to drizzle, then to drops.
Like on of Thomas Hardy’s dismal props,
demure atop its neo-gothic column,
the timepieces tenders us that old, unsolemn
advisory: it counts only sunny hours.
If one subtracts for night, for clouds, for showers,
that hardly makes a taxing regimen.
Always willing to work, of course, but when
is not for it or us to specify,
much as we might prefer to clear the sky.

The gnomon, less a pointer than a nose
of stiff wrought iron, juts aloft and shows
there isn’t anything to do but wait,
unless to smell dank earth and meditate
on times we’re just as willing not to mark.
Could we surrender to the larger dark
the shadows that our memories renew,
it would be no great trick to share the view
that keeps the dial jovially on track.
It never forfeits time in looking back,
endures inertia while the meddling storm
denies it freedom to protect its form,
and holding its potential in good stead
resumes its reach as quick as light is shed.

Articles by Robert B. Shaw

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