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Words From The Woods

The Half-light

As I write I look out on the shadowy woods, where all lies in mystery. I love the heavy skies and low sunlight of autumn. I love the sight of springtime shadows cast across our walls. My husband and I have always loved the meeting places between things, and through our years of looking and feeling and talking together, I have gained words for my feelings.

Wherever snow falls, or water flows, or birds fly, wherever

day and night meet in twilight,

Here I sit beside the fire with not a candle lit in the half-light of an early evening. It is my very favorite time of day. To me the soul lives nearest the surface of life, not in bright daylight or in the dark, but in the half-light, in the half-darkness.

Wherever the medium becomes visible or somehow perceptible to the senses, that's where I feel at home. When steam rises from a kettle over a fire, and for a moment the heavy element of water is lighter than air, there I feel most alive. For a moment water and sky are one. For a moment the medium is alive between them.

wherever the blue heaven is hung by clouds, or sown with

stars, wherever are forms with transparent boundaries,

The half-earth, the half-sky. The life in between: sometimes the air itself has a light and a scent that are almost substantial. You can feel the air, you can see it; you can sense that the air is something in itself, that something— the spirit— is present in it.

Most of the time the atmosphere is only an emptiness that other things pass through. But sometimes, most especially in the twilight times of dawn and dusk, the light becomes a substance you might almost pour out and hold. This is the light of the woods, where sunlight by day and moonlight by night pour through the canopy of trees into the vessel of enclosing darkness.

And this is the light of Innermost House. Here I live between the light and darkness, between the earth and sky, between East and West, between past and future time. Here I live the soul’s suspended life between these and all things, in solitary conversation with my husband.

It is strange. I'm so at home here, yet I have seen this place bring wonder and fear into others' eyes. I sit and listen to the mistfall from the trees on the roof’s worn cedar shingles. I keep the in-between hours.

wherever is danger, and awe, and love, there is Beauty,

plenteous as rain, shed for thee.

These are the ordinary-most of things, and the most extraordinary. I have lived a searching life through half the world, at last to make

a home here in this hidden place— in this half-light, in this half-darkness.


The lines Diana quotes in this entry are from the concluding paragraph of Emerson's essay, "The Poet," in his second series of Essays, published in 1843. In this essay Emerson speaks of the need for a new poet to speak of the New World in a new way. t was reading these few brief pages that set Walt Whitman on fire to pursue a career as America's first great poet.

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