The summer solstice finds me remembering the narrator of Alan Hollinghurst’s The Folding Star and the description well half way into the novel of the experience which explains the title.
My favourite time was soon after sunset, when I liked to catch the first sight of the evening star, suddenly bright, high in the west above the darkening outlines of the copses. It was a solitary ritual, wound up incoherently with bits of poetry said over and over like spells: sunset and evening star, the star that bids the shepherd fold, her fond yellow hornlight wound to the west . . . It intensified and calmed my yearnings at the same time, like a song. In one poem I’d seen that first star referred to as the folding star, and the words haunted me with their suggestion of an embrace and at the same time a soundless implosion, of something ancient but evanescent; I looked up to it in a mood of desolate solitude burning into cold calm. I lingered, testing out the ache of it: I had to be back before it was truly dark, but in high summer that could be very late. I became a connoisseur of the last lonely grading of blue into black.
The magic of the liminal inscribed in the very suspension marks of the paragraph. Catching on the shift from present (“bids”) to past (“wound”) and the curve back given the reference of “her” to either “star” or “shepherd” one enters the game of suspension. And by hornlight recognizes the function of the shade: to diffuse.
And so for day 189