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Published: Jul 24, 2005
Modified: Jul 24, 2005 3:00 AM
The Lesser Light

By PAUL JONES, Correspondent

The moon inspires us all, but with varied and inconstant emotions. The particular phenomenon of earthshine, which causes us to see an old moon held in the arms of a bright new moon, was an ill omen to the anonymous 16th-century author of the "Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens," who wrote "Late late yestreen I saw the new moone,/ Wi the auld moone in her arme,/ And I feir, I feir, my deir master,/ That we will cum to harme." Coleridge picked up those lines in early April 1802 for "Dejection: An Ode" but changed the image to include not only dejection, but tranquility and even love. We, too, can look at the odd way that the double reflection of sunlight decorates our night and reflect on how many indirections have brought us into the dark and into a new way of looking at the light.

Old days when we had no bright
Moonrise by Ansel Adams
In the West and in all Truth --
The honest way his shots made
New what we already knew
Moon's passion meets us with night
Arms. It holds us tight and soothes

PAUL JONES, who did the first part of his growing up in Charlotte, is amazed that at his advanced age he can still qualify as a distinguished member of the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists. A graduate of N.C. State and of Warren Wilson College -- where he studied computer science and literature -- Jones is the director of (a large-scale information sharing project) and on the faculties of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the School of Information and Library Science at UNC. Jones is author of the chapbook "What the Welsh and Chinese Have in Common." Jones is blessed to live with the lovely and talented Sally Greene, a member of the Chapel Hill Town Council, and Tucker Jones, a future cell biologist and Lego master.
Old wounds. I'm new to you yet,
Moonset's far ahead of us.
In time, we'll have to confess;
The night says: Time to forget;
New sins will wait for regret.
Moon's beam lights us smuggling
Arms across love's border. Sing

Old numbers about loss: I've
Mooned over you long enough.
In this white light, let me give
The crush we share a new face:
New love snuggles for her place.
Moon's balm will not smooth our rough
Arms, our lips, or replace

Old scars with white milky tones.
Moon cuts and puts other ones
In the mix. We're in a fix.
The old is never quite gone.
New love requires some new tricks.
Moon's light gives us its two strong
Arms to make our shadow one.

Old songs warn us away, but
Moon says: Come on, jump in. But
In what? Memory's robot,
The force drives us, isn't about
New people, new ideas, but
Moon's promise, Moon's groan, Moon's
Arms, Moon's kiss, Moon's mean moan, Moon's

Old hard grudge against the sun.
Moon-versus-sun's oversung
In verse; it's stale and then some.
The challenge is to make some
New lyrics. Go back to the
Moon's first birth; flowing from the
Arms of God like blood from the

Arms of Christ: love beneath the
Moon's cold surface belies the
New words we've put in its mouth,
The old words keep seeping out.
In every work of love,
Moon still works its golden charms:
Old moon in the new moon's arms.

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