Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sailing West

If you are small enough the ground on which you dwell may appear flat even if it is the surface of a sphere. We’re held captive by what we perceive. Powerful optics, a quiet ocean, and a tall ship can teach the patient observer that earth’s surface curves. The departing ship disappears before its sails do; the approaching ship shows the tips of its masts before it shows itself.

Where is this rule violated? The only and charming place that comes to mind is Middle-Earth. In that realm the dead embark in ships and sail off to the West, but as they reach the horizon the ships don’t disappear but sail on in a straight line blown by the ether’s wind. Today we drove West in the morning to bid farewell to Helen Fisher, born Helen Shepherd. Memories of Middle-Earth came to me as, during a final farewell procession, to say our last words to Helen, a young woman played “Danny Boy” on bagpipes. She sailed West—and the sky caught her as the horizon sank. 

1 comment:

  1. Guided by the Lonely Star,
    beyond the utmost harbour-bar,
    I'll find the heavens fair and free,
    and beaches of the Starlit Sea.
    Ship, my ship! I seek the West,
    and fields and mountains ever blest.
    Farewell to Middle-earth at last.
    I see the Star above my mast!