Bringing Light to the Black Ship


you who wander over the wide earth, over
all the sea’s domain on your flying horses,
easily delivering mortal men from
death and terror:

swept in far descent to the strong-built vessel’s
masthead, you ride shining upon the cables,
through the weariness of the dark night bringing
light to the black ship.

(English translation of portion of poem by Spartan poet Alcaeus of Mytilene, writing about 2600 years ago.)

I almost didn’t go. I’m so glad I went.

The lighthouse at Pigeon Point was to turn on their old-fashioned light with the Fresnel lenses. I know what a Fresnel lens is–I’m a photographer. You find them in camera viewfinders, groundglasses of view cameras, on the front of studio lights… So I expected that when they turned on the old light–first installed one hundred and thirty-five years ago–the light would be brighter, or maybe more tightly focused. Something subtle.

The modern light spun its beacon around and around in the thick, cold fog. It went dark. I waited, memorizing the last sight of the modern light lest it be difficult to distinguish from the old one.

When the light returned it wasn’t so much re-lit as it was reborn. The Ancients would have worshiped it for a god.

And rightly so.

Click here to see a gallery of lighthouse photos.

Click here to see a slideshow of gallery photos.

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Photographs by Darin Boville

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