Winter Solstice 2011

As always, my thoughts on solstice turn to John M. Ford’s poem, Winter Solstice, Camelot Station. I’ve blogged about it last year and in 2009.

I was talking on Twitter a few days ago with someone, discussing a shared belief. The belief I seem to share with this other person is that entropy wins in the end, most great and glorious things ultimately arrive at darkness and ruin, and that is no damn kind of reason to give up.

That is part of why I love this poem. We, the readers, know that Camelot falls. More to the point, Arthur and Lance seem to know it, too. Yet not a one of them is giving up. In this poem order and progress are the bones of the kingdom, the agreed-upon goals of this found family of knights. It is beside the point that kingdoms fall, and families fight. What we build, what we lose, becomes inspiration for later times and people. What we make will fade, only to be added to and expanded by later generations. Light into darkness into light.

It’s a solstice-y kind of thought, here on the darkest day of the year. By this time next week, it will be a little bit lighter.

It’s also a slightly comforting thought when I look at the state of the world. In two hundred years, things will be different in ways I cannot imagine. What we have created now may be entirely in ruins. But there will be something else. Something that takes from the lessons of today.

The young knights will dally and the damsels dally back,
The old knights will play poker at a smaller Table Round.
And at the great glass station, motion goes on,
The extras, the milk trains, the varnish, the limiteds,
The Pindar of Wakefield, the Lady of the Lake,
The Broceliande Local, the Fast Flying Briton,
The nerves of the kingdom, the lines of exchange,
Running to a schedule as the world ought,
Ticking like a hot-fired hand-stoked heart,
The metal expression of the breaking of boundaries,
The boilers that turn raw fire into power,
The driving rods that put the power to use,
The turning wheels that make all places equal,
The knowledge that the train may stop but the line goes on;
The train may stop
But the line goes on.

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