In Tenebris

by Ford Madox Ford

All within is warm,
Here without it’s very cold,
Now the year is grown so old
And the dead leaves swarm.

In your heart is light,
Here without it’s very dark,
When shall I hear the lark?
When see aright?

Oh, for a moment’s space!
Draw the clinging curtains wide
Whilst I wait and yearn outside
Let the light fall on my face.


The new year is almost here.  Perhaps you’re eager to leave the old one, full of uncertainty and discomfort and fear, behind.  Perhaps you’re mourning it, full of blessings and warmth and peace as it was.  Or perhaps, as I suspect it was for most of us, the year was a patchwork quilt, sewn with both birth and death, success and failure, sorrow and joy.

Ford captures the dichotomy of New Year’s Eve.  Inside — maybe a house, maybe a mind — he finds brightness and warmth.  Outside — in the elements or perhaps outside a relationship — is dark and cold.  His patchwork year leaves a bitter taste on the title (“in darkness”) and through the first two stanzas.  The leaves are dead and the lark is silent.

And yet, there is light.  He pulls back those curtains of despair and waits, patiently and alone, for hope.  Amidst the foggy grey of a muddled good/bad year, a stream of light will shine, if only we pull back the curtain.

May you find a moment’s space tonight.  May you draw the curtain, open the window, and climb outside to wait.  May the light fall where you need it most.

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