Sixth Reflection: Sappho, “At noontime / When the earth is bright with flaming heat”

At noontime / When the earth is bright with flaming heat
Sappho (tr. Mary Barnard)

At noontime

When the earth is
bright with flaming
heat falling straight down

the cricket sets
up a high-pitched
singing in his wings

Comment:

Some days are not even close to the best. Thing is, a lot of us are striving for consistency, for security. And to strive for consistency and security is just that. There’s a lot of turbulence by definition. Some of it we’re trying to escape, some of it is self-caused.

It’s easy to feel caught in a web of guilt, thinking one has made the wrong decisions. Especially when nature looks like clockwork. Regularly at noon, a fire descends, causing a reciprocal sound from the cricket. A powerful but not fatal heat seems to set the cricket in motion; its noise and flight are one and the same.

Why are we so inconsistent? The cricket’s passion looks caused by a natural occurrence. This timeliness is a divine order: the cricket finds its mood and fate tied to what illumines the earth, no more. It didn’t stop and think about, say, how much Monday sucks.

In this fragment, there’s an imagined beauty and orderliness. An imagined consistency. We’re the ones who feel secure in thinking the cricket is set in motion so simply.The freedom of human beings entails learning to make the right choices. It’s a responsibility where things going awry isn’t always the worst thing. What’s really scary are the circumstances where freedom and responsibility don’t really exist, where necessities and the contrivances of others dictate everything and we aren’t even aware. The cricket, by this reasoning, is completely in a world of its own.