Rembrandt - The Philosopher in Meditation

For A.G.


The fire called the shadows in

They rushed to occupy every perimeter

Crowded the mantelpiece, jostled with sharp elbows

Tore up the carpets and hung heavily from the curtains

Whispered their love songs with hoarse and gentle tongues

Scattered in terror at the weft of the flame as it buckled and coiled

Wickered in fear at the ravens that plunged amongst them

Wept and were livid in the pools of their time

Were mighty and weak and triumphantly willing

Were giant and glorious weaklings who laughed incandescent promises at naked tomorrow

Spread their legs to let the light in, opened every eye to the heat

Tore their hearts mercilessly asunder, sacrificially pledged

They don’t care for the fingers in your ears, the closed gates in your brain or your control throttle

For they gathered only to deliver one message

This bull-black squad shrilling out, shrilling out:

For you that ate the moon whole

Spat full chords with rhythm deft

Planted precision and let it grow up your legs to encircle your throat

High notes, spherical music of distant intention gasped

Suspended lines of expectation, all your sincere whispers

Long fingers strike the lightest of touches

To upturned faces silverlit, eyeballs luminescent

Willing into being by webs of promises

New meanings in old voices, old meanings in new voices

Weavers of this arpeggio of livid stars, nexus of cares

This maze of dreams that belong to maybe

Soft gradations in the first rays, subtle turning, movement asking

Saudade; all this mess of tangled yearning

Dawn sweeps the shadows up, smothers the embers in light


The painting above is a crop of Rembrandt’s Philosopher in Meditation (or Interior with Tobit and Anna).

Dan Crockett

Dan Crockett is a writer on human/nature relations. His work appears in Agenda, Dark Mountain, HuffPost, Surfer’s Journal, Style.com, Kinfolk, Caught by the River, Journal of Wild Culture, Riverlit and many others. One of his poems was made into a film called Uncommon Ideals and shown on Channel 4 after getting 142,000 views. His first non-fiction book, Wildonomics, is ten social experiments to connect humans with nature. He works as a wilderness guide on the Wildfjords Trail in Iceland and surfs too much, with a particular interest in rare, wild, empty waves.