To shade through, like deeper chalks
and oil crayons, pulling out dark
tones into waking light. Shading
through, like a person's soul.
What's left after death -
according to Greeks
- is not you, but
a shadow in your shape,
that moves on in your old
habits and ways.
It no longer
is you. It no longer is
as it always was,
by the dance of light
and spirit you gave it. That you
give it. That makes it you. It can
never change, not even its mind - it
hasn't one. Just a memory of. So it goes,
on through all the old steps,
shuffling off into shadow,
infinitely stage left.
whatever impression you've left.
Just so you know:
it is you now dancing,
shining, who creates and shapes
what you leave behind. You
who you are, are your life.
Your memory cast, in everyone's
love, and eyes, and mind, is
but a shade.
And that image you make
while you live every day, it grows
long and goes on, and they stand
in your shade. Already,
day by day, you you pass,
as if into shadow. But you make
of it a shadow play. Because you're
still here to play it again,
to make it last, for as long
as you stay.
Each impression you leave
with each passing of yours,
through any mind, any pair of eyes
- As long as you live to cut the light,
and step however you wish into it,
your deft decision, your grace and might
bring every shadow of you
And in some ways, maybe
you could say that shade
is a realer somehow, than you
yourself. Considered in terms
of sheer multiplicity? You
are only ever in that one place
you shine, but you leave such array
of reflection behind. Everywhere
While you live, you do everything
your shade ever can't. You cut
and drape and arrange all shapes,
and color all shades of you, as you go.
You can even stop. Look back, judge
the effect, perhaps have a moment
of self-criticism? Anguish? Some do! And then
twist, leap outward with a cry,
or after a cry,
in some new,
or at least
strange-to-you way, path, plot,
dash, stab, lash, twirl, pirouette?
Something never seen before
in your silhouette. They may not
cry encore. You may say "Hm.
That's not really me, though" but this
is the point: You're the one
who has made and keeps making that call.
You are the one who tries who tries
you on for size and fit, and flings self
into it. Any time you wish, you can throw
new shapes, let old contours go,
bled away in light. An afterimage,
fading soon to past all recall.
You are the light designer
of the show you put on in others lives.
It's you, always, and after all,
- but the shape, tone, depth you've laid down
as you go by always shades through. The cumulative you,
in another's view: an aftereffect. And as you play
(at being you) it is that backdrop you play against.
Careful or careless of it, you choose now
always now: mark! Don't look down, step up
hit it on feel, how to get through this scene, this
act: whether word, or dance step and turn, or emphasis
on this or that matter of fact - and what on earth
do you mean by that? That meaning is what you leave
behind, but it isn't you. You have meant far more.
Very little of that has to do with
Greeks, I confess.
They didn't carry their shades out from Hades
into all the images of sense and memory
that one makes in others while living. A shade
was strictly for afters, for them. But
it seems to me, it's the same thing really.
What I thought was kind of wild is that
they knew: your shade was not, and is not
you. Just the shadow your life has cast