Dusk on a Friday

From where I sit on my couch, I can see a vast expanse of the river. But when it’s evening, like now, the lights start dimming in the distance and the darkness closes in slowly, smothering the sunny day that is a thing of the past now.

It dawns on me why dusk is a sad time for most people.

The lights begin to twinkle in the distance, everything loses colour slowly and turns a shade of grey. People and dogs moving about the river bank start slowly turning into stick figures of black and the boats lose their shape blending in with the dark river only marked by their lights.

The mystery of the day is gone. What is about to happen? What will the day bring? It’sย  all a known set of facts to be stowed away somewhere. Complete. Done. Never to be repeated or revised.

I chance upon an article that has an excerpt from Kafka called “A Little Fable.” It makes me feel like he is writing about dusk.

“Alas,” said the mouse, “the world gets smaller every day. At first it was so wide that I ran along and was happy to see walls appearing to my right and left, but these high walls converged so quickly that Iโ€™m already in the last room, and there in the corner is the trap into which I must run.

“But youโ€™ve only got to run the other way,” said the cat, and ate it.

It seems to me as though that last room is dusk.

But this is too final for this calm and mellow mood. I must find another quote.

Dusk here, next to the river, is a quiet time. At least from where I’m sitting. I know that it isn’t quiet for everyone.

Even as I write, a brightly lighted boat moves rather slowly through the water, in contrast to the swiftly criss-crossing ferries, in a somewhat directionless way. That boat has people merry-making (isn’t that such an old-fashioned word just like this mood is I’m in?) I hear all kinds of loud music from those boats sometimes floating down the river in English, Spanish and Hindi out of the ones I can recognize. I know that in the city people are welcoming this evening with eagerness because it’s a day after a long week of work. It’s Friday. (Now why does that make me think of “What Work Is” by Philip Levine? I don’t know.)

But that boat only puts into relief the darkness that is all around.

Here, where I am sitting, I am thinking of two stanzas from an old poem by Tennyson that suits this mood perfectly and that tells me that melancholy is not always a bad thing. Melancholy has value. Melancholy is beautiful.

It’s okay to be melancholy at dusk.

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
. . .
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

. . .

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24 thoughts on “Dusk on a Friday”

  1. dusk is my time too, dusk and dawn the inbetween worlds, there is a certain kind of magic.. days are just normal, same same, people rushing around not noticing anything. Dusk is forever changing, a strange colour its an anticipation of the night, where people relax and meet friends or stay in warm cosy houses full of life. I love looking at houses all lit up – I love traveling by night and I love entering cities at night too with all the lights lit up extraordinary and electric.

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  2. I’ve always said I’m having this poem read at my funeral !!! plus a full orchestra and choir to play and sing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy – actually the whole of the last movement!!!!

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  3. I never realized that dusk is a sad time for most people. I’m a morning person, but I always find dusk beautiful and strangely exciting. Like a whole new world is waking up. But it might be because a) I grew up in Maryland, where we the fireflies appeared at dusk in summer (something to look forward to), and b) because I’m Jewish, the sun’s setting marks a new day (so that’s when holidays start, and so on).

    But what’s nice about your post is that even though I experience dusk without the melancholy you describe, I can experience it because of your lovely description.

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    1. I know. On really hot summer days in Calcutta, when the sun sets, it cools down and the fireflies come with dusk in places where there are trees and shrubs. They are beautiful. You reminded me of them and cool summer evenings in warm places. Thanks!

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  4. I came to the lines from Tennyson and gasped out loud – I just wrote a scene earlier where a character who is dying reads this poem to himself. I have always loved it! Yes – at dusk we may be permitted to feel melancholy.

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  5. I really enjoyed this – beautifully described. I live out in the countryside – open spaces and big skies. Dusk here is a special time too, unlike the city, which takes on a different kind of life. Here the air becomes very still around sunset and you can feel the world settling down, feel the call for retreating indoors,then the final embrace of sleep – long resisted in my case, but surrendered to eventually. Hard to escape the intimations of death around dusk too. The ancient people here people buried their ancestors in elevated locations overlooking the west and the sunset. You can imagine them thinking it opened a doorway to another world. I don’t know Tennyson that well, but the lines you posted tell me it was his own mortality he had in mind when he wrote them.

    I was in the mood for melancholy today. Thankyou.

    Regards

    Michael

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  6. Dusk sends a message of “You’re done for today. Relax. Enjoy the quiet. Close your eyes in the darkness and melt into sleep.” Enjoyed this post very much — but then I’m a fan of most of yours.

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  7. So true, love this. It is just fine to dwell in melancholy. As you’ve said, there are beautiful moments in that poignant lull. The challenge? To capture those moments and put them into words.

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  8. What a poetic description of dusk and endings and melancholy. I came across your post just as my thoughts were turning toward a friend who is battling cancer. Your words served as a blanket of sorts that acknowledged and gave voice to some sadness I’ve been harboring. Thank you.

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  9. The Night has mystery too and Days bring much melancholy too. But what Dusk does is take away natural color and replaces it with garish and brash neons. And that the Slo-Man thinks is sad.

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