Fair-skinned and Irish, the sun is not my friend — exposures much longer than 1/2 hour of direct rays make me look as if I had been staked out in the Arizona desert, but this Thursday morning in gliding past big fields filled with sunlight, I thought of Frost’s wonderful tent and the air moving all around it, and the blue sky in those ranges of light.
“The Silken Tent” is a love sonnet directed to one woman. It pays her the compliment of being both “at ease” and yet “bound” in her life, a person defined by love and thoughtfulness, a woman sure of her own soul, a woman of complexity and one possessing both a physical and a transcendent beauty. All of this is accomplished within the equally constrained and free form of the 14 line sonnet. Form matches sentiment.
The Silken Tent
She is as in a field a silken tent
At midday when a sunny summer breeze
Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent
So that in guys it gently sways at ease
And its supporting central cedar pole,
That is its pinnacle to heavenward
And signifies the sureness of the soul,
Seems to owe naught to any single cord,
But strictly held by none, is loosely bound
By countless silken ties of love and thought
To everyone on earth the compass round,
And only by one’s going slightly taut
In the capriciousness of summer air
Is of the slightest bondage made aware.
On this morning I am captured by the image of that tent, made of the most agile and graceful of fabrics, floating in all that light and warm air, and in looking at field after field swim past me, in my mind’s eye I anchor a small white house in them, one bounded by tall grass and permeated by light, a sanctuary, a place of delivery from winter and darkness, a mirage of a home.
Who among us, especially as we grow older, does not wish for more light?