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The Nature of a Shadow

The nature of a shadow is said to be nothing. It is, in fact, a phenomenon of whose “substance” is obstructed light. Consider. If shadows are visible, they must perforce be something, for, as anyone of sound mind knows, a thing invisible cannot be seen. Then, too, a shadow has extension – length and width but no height – two properties not possible if a shadow is nothing. Stranger still, a shadow is engendered by something other than itself, something substantial, solid, material, an ontological impossibility, you will insist, since nothing can be born of nothing. Thus proof that a shadow is something! Genetics and heredity demand like for like, yet a shadow has none of its progenitor’s traits except one – shape – but even that is subject to change and distortion, depending on the time of day and availability of light. Then, too, a shadow’s life can be short or long, and like a faithful dog, it always returns to its home as does light at day’s end. On cloudy days, however, shadows prefer to stay indoors and are rarely seen at night – unless enticed by artificial light. Early risers, they also retire early following a very old and wise human saying. Are shadows, then, healthy nothings? Shadows are also generous benefactors, though rarely thought of as such, freely offering shade to any who seek them. At one time they even marked off time by prostrating themselves on sundials and with some accuracy. Finally, a shadow is often viewed in a morbid light, and has become associated, sadly, with death, the departed called “shades” by ancient minds and believed gathered in earth’s depths to a shadowy afterlife abode of blessings or punishments depending on the writer’s theology, sense of justice, vindictiveness, perversity, superstition or just plain ignorance.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2021

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Date: 4/6/2021 12:33:00 PM
This is an incredibly fine piece of writing on the "mysteries" of shadows. I loved it. I am listing it among my FAVS. I had never given much thought to shadows, but obviously you have. Worth much more consideration, my friend. Tell us more.
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Maurice Rigoler
Date: 4/6/2021 12:51:00 PM
Milton, you're giving me a big head which I find cumbersome to carry on my modest shoulders. My curiosity about shadows goes back years with no little onservation as to how they present themselves. I have a habdful of shorter poems on the subject Thanks always for the generous comments. / Maurice