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What the Shadows of Acadia Whisper

Acadia National Park of Maine is a place of light and shadow. It’s where you are the first in all of the U.S. to touch morning light, and where you lose yourself in long shadows cast by a sea-kissed moon. Times in-between stand out. That moment between night and day, when mist hugs the rocky slopes of Cadillac Mountain and strange shapes arise from shadows, or the first moment when moonlight dances a path across an ocean horizon.

It was our good fortune then, to find ourselves in the midst of an in-between moment, right as the sun set to the full moon. Here we lingered on a shore near the popular Sand Beach. Yet no souls save our own listened to the rhythmic sound of waves breaking between the clang of a distant bell. All others were surely at their safe dinner tables feasting on spoils of the sea. We smiled to the coast, turned our faces to the ascending moon and listened.

In this paradise Andres told me about the late 19th century Colombian poet José A Silva, a brilliant writer who shot himself in the heart at age 30. Andres described his poem Nocturne III, and the moonlight of Acadia seemed to whisper these words to us, best read in its original Spanish, but profound still in English, below.

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Though we hear these whispers in the shadows, they are truly the whispers of our souls, heard only during moments between sun and moon. It is what draws us to sunsets, rises and rarely, eclipses. Equally so the moment before a great storm, or right when one passes. From these times – and the thoughts felt within them – art flourishes. I cannot say why, can you?

Now I leave you with the whispers of a poet long gone, yet not forgotten.

Nocturne III (One Night) by José A Silva

It was evening,
a night filled with perfumes, whispers, and the music of bird’ wings;
A night
when fantastic glowworms flickered in the nuptial, humid shadows,
at my side, ever so slowly, close to me, listless and silent
as if prey to premonition of the most stinging pain
that inflamed the deep secret of your fibers,
over the path filled with flowers that stretched across the plain,
you were walking;
and the full moon
in the sky, so infinite, so unfathomable, spread its light.
And your shadow,
lean and languid,
and my shadow,
by the moon’s rays silhouetted
on the path’s sorrowful gravel,
were united
and were one,
but one long and lonely shadow,
but one long and lonely shadow,
but one long and lonely shadow…
Tonight,
desolate; my soul
by your death so bitterly pained and anguished,
torn from you by time, distance and the grave
upon that infinite blackness
where our voice cannot be heard,
lone and mute,
on the path I kept on walking…
And dogs braying at the moon came to my ears,
at the pale face of the moon,
and the croaking of the frogs.
I felt cold; the same chill that in your chamber
numbed your precious cheeks, hands and brow
amidst the snow-white linens
of the funereal shroud.
It was frost out of the tomb, it was the ice of the dead,
and the chilliness of the void…
And my shadow,
sketched out by the paleness of the moon,
walked alone
walked alone,
walked alone upon the prairie;
and your shadow, lean and graceful,
pure and languid,
as in that warm spring evening long ago,
as in that night filled with perfumes, whispers and the music of bird’ wings,
approached me and walked with mine,
approached me and walked with mine,
approached me and walked mine… Oh embraced shadows!
Oh the shadows of the bodies mingling with the shadows of the souls!
Oh shadows that search each other in tear-filled and somber nights!

(Source and original Spanish)

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