Notes on “The Growing Weariness of Light”

“The Growing Weariness of Light” is an exercise piece. The task set was to alter one aspect of nature and write based on the consequences. The success of this poem can be argued. Some of its audience enjoy the fantasy. Some are concerned about the structure and its flaws. Some worry about the science.

The result was a poem initially based on verb tenses and how they might be affected – in particular, the way movement through space would affect the perception of time. The poem is flawed as it does not distinctly separate the effects of approaching the speed of this slowed down light and exceeding it. Of course, the physicist would argue that exceeding the speed of light is not possible within the constraints of current theory, but (fictional) poetry is not always constrained in this way.

The poem plays with the use of repetition. The fragment ” if I can speak of…” ties the poem together, and allows the contrasting temporal concepts of “now and then” and “now and when” to be introduced.

The final stanza gives movement to the poem by examining the notion that not only will time eventually stop but also that the light will dim. But the movement from brightness into darkness is based on a premise that the light diminishes as it slows – but on consideration this is not likely as the quantity of light should be conserved, not being dependant on its motion (in the same way as the number of cars in a given set remains constant whether or not the cars are moving). This is a serious flaw.

One further issue is worthy of note. The hiding of wicked deeds in paper bags is an enjoyable concept with a degree of surprise, but has a surreal quality that is perhaps too strong as an image. The release of the trapped sunset has a similar surrealism. This makes the progression to the comparative realism of the remainder of the poem anticlimactic. This was not intended and reinforces the notion that the poem is flawed in construction.

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