Blue Shadows

Today’s problems, massive seeming as they are to us, will, in time, be as shadows on the restless, shifting sand. Listening to Susan Wise Bauer’s magisterial three volume history of man from earliest myths to the renaissance, I became aware, not for the first time, that everything in the past is like blue shadows dimly seen on an erratically flickering screen. Valentinian’s problems with the Goths in the West and Valens’s sudden and unexpected encounter with the fiercest fighters to enter Europe from the vastness of the endless plains of Central Asia, the Huns, merits a short line or two. The Goths and the Huns are but dim blue shadows against the background of history, as are Valentinian and Valens. And as are we. The world we live in would have been unimaginable to Valentinian, let alone to the Huns, and as the world of a thousand years hence is unimaginable to us, where we too will be as flickering shadows, dimly seen against relentless time.

The Prince, back to the rising dawn
Sees shadow distant stretch
But at the setting, shadow gone
No longer Prince, but wretch
The King, his shadow mighty cast
Encircling the Earth
Will see his shadow dim at last
And circle to his birth
Blue shadows on a flick’ring screen
Erratic motions cease
The instant caster leaves the scene
And enters final peace
And so to all, if King or Prince
Blue shadows tell the tale
Of truth well told before and since
Blue shadow’s not for sale
Not to the Prince or mighty King
To order to expand
For shadows will, like everything
Die in the restless sand