Selected Poems

5 Magnificent Poems About Solar Eclipse

Last Updated: February 6, 2023
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Solar eclipses have been a source of awe and wonder for centuries, inspiring artists and poets alike to capture their beauty in various forms of art. Poetry, in particular, has been a medium through which the majesty and mystery of solar eclipses have been celebrated. Whether it’s the breathtaking sight of the moon blocking out the sun or the symbolism of the event, poems about solar eclipses are masterpieces that encapsulate the essence of this natural phenomenon. In this article, we will delve into 5 magnificent poems about solar eclipses that are sure to leave you in awe.

1. Seeing the Eclipse in Maine by Robert Bly

We shared chocolate, and one man from Maine   
Told a joke.  Suns were everywhere—at our feet.

Seeing the Eclipse starts with the line “It started about noon. On top of Mount Batte,” which sets the scene and the time of day. A pinhole camera is used to observe the eclipse, a popular technique in the Renaissance. As the sun appears in tiny form on a notebook cover through the pinhole and the moon moves further in front of the sun, people see dozens of crescents, which are tiny images of the sun, appearing everywhere. The poem ends with the line “We shared chocolate, and one man from Maine told a joke,” which illustrates the joy that people experience while observing the eclipse.

“Seeing the Eclipse in Maine” is a poem that describes a group of people observing a solar eclipse, a rare event where the moon passes in front of the sun, blocking its light. The poem is written in a conversational tone and provides a vivid picture of the experience of watching the eclipse.

2. When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer by Walt Whitman

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer by Walt Whitman speaks to the balance between scientific understanding and the raw, emotional experience of the universe. This balance is particularly evident during a solar eclipse, when the scientific explanation of the event and the awe-inspiring spectacle it creates come together. It invites us to pause and appreciate the raw beauty of the universe, in all its mysterious and infinite majesty.

The astronomer, with his charts and diagrams, represents the scientific understanding of the world. The proofs and figures are presented in a methodical and logical manner, yet the speaker feels “tired and sick” in their presence. This is a testament to the limitations of scientific explanation, as it fails to capture the awe and majesty of the cosmos. On the other hand, the speaker finds solace in the stillness and silence of the night air and the stars, as it offers a moment of awe and wonder that transcends scientific explanation.

3. High Noon at Los Alamos by Eleanor Wilner

with its caesura, a pause
to signal peace, or a rehearsal
for the silence.

High Noon at Los Alamos takes its name from the town of Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the first atomic bomb was developed as part of the Manhattan Project. The poem illustrates the potential dangers of harnessing the sun’s energy, represented by the metaphor of a solar eclipse. Just as an eclipse temporarily obscures the sun’s light and power, the signal fire represents the potential for a catastrophic event that could have devastating consequences.

Eleanor Wilner addresses the topic of solar eclipses by exploring the idea of harnessing the power of the sun and the potential dangers that come with such an endeavor. The poem ends with a caesura, or pause, which can be seen as a moment of reflection on the potential consequences of our actions and a call to consider the impact of our technological advancements on the world.

4. A Solar Eclipse by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

While far and near the men our world call wise
     See only that the Sun is in eclipse.

A Solar Eclipse starts with the observation of the great journey of the stars through space, which is dominated by the mighty and all-directing Sun. The Moon is described as pale and faithful, serving as the companion of the Earth and illuminating the Sun’s orbit with her silvery smile. Later on, Moon slips from her beaten path and with her mantle veils the Sun’s bold eyes which depicts the awe-inspiring event of the eclipse and underscores the idea that even in our world of perceived wisdom and knowledge, there is still much mystery and beauty to be uncovered.

This beautiful poem speaks to the celestial dance between the Earth and the Moon, two celestial bodies that share a close and intimate relationship. Ella Wheeler Wilcox personifies the Moon, describing her as a tender and passionate lover to the Sun, and uses this metaphor to convey the majesty and wonder of the celestial event that is a solar eclipse. It is also a reminder that even in the midst of a world dominated by the Sun, the Moon still holds a special place in the sky and in our hearts.

5. Chrysalis by Arthur Sze

The continuous bifurcates into the segmented
as the broken extends. Someone steals

Chrysalis by Arthur Sze discusses beauty and loss, both in the natural world and in human experience. The imagery in the poem is rich and varied, touching on themes of growth and decay, cycles of birth and death, and the movement of time. The diamond ring of the solar eclipse symbolizes the enduring power of the sun and its potential to provide sustainable energy to the world. Additionally, the mention of light from the partial lunar eclipse diffusing down skylight walls illustrates the harnessing of solar energy for use in homes and buildings.

The poem ends with a meditation on the fleeting nature of human experience, as the speaker notes that “the continuous bifurcates into the segmented / as the broken extends.” This final image underscores the sense of transience that pervades the entire poem, highlighting the way that all things are fleeting and interconnected, and that life and the natural world continue to change and evolve, regardless of human activity.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, the phenomenon of a solar eclipse has inspired numerous poets to put their emotions and thoughts into words. These five poems offer a unique perspective on the awe-inspiring sight of the Moon passing in front of the Sun and temporarily darkening the sky. Whether it’s the mystery, the beauty, or the symbolism, the solar eclipse continues to captivate audiences and stir the imagination of poets everywhere.

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