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Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Unclouded Day


Dadaab mass grave. Children have walked for weeks across the desert to get to Dadaab, and many perish on the way. Others have died shortly after arrival. On the edge of the camp, a young girl stands amid the freshly made graves of 70 children, many of whom died of malnutrition: photo by Andy Hall/Oxfam, 25 July 2011 (Oxfam East Africa)

O they tell me of a home far beyond the skies,
O they tell me of a home far away;
O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise,
O they tell me of an unclouded day.

Sunlight shining through sequoias, Muir Woods: photo by Richs5812, 5 January 2007

O the land of cloudless day,
O the land of an unclouded day,
O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise,
O they tell me of an unclouded day.

Hot spring, Leirhnjúkur, Iceland
: photo by Andreas Tile, 1996

O they tell me of a home where my friends have gone,
O they tell me of that land far away,
Where the tree of life in eternal bloom
Sheds its fragrance through the unclouded day.

Tomb of Thutmosis III. Scene: The King is fed from the Holy Tree (Lady of the Sycamore): Theban, c. 1500-1450 BCE

O they tell me of a King in His beauty there,
And they tell me that mine eyes shall behold
Where He sits on the throne that is whiter than snow,
In the city that is made of gold.

Genie with a poppy flower: relief from the Palace of King Sargon II at Dur Sharrukin in Assyria (now Khorsabad in Iraq), 716-713 BC; discovered in excavations of Paul-Emile Botta, 1843-1844: photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen, 2006 (Department of Oriental Antiquities, Musée du Louvre, Paris)

O they tell me that He smiles on His children there,
And His smile drives their sorrows all away;
And they tell me that no tears ever come again
In that lovely land of unclouded day.

Rainclouds gathering over Bareina, desert village in southern Mauretania, West Africa: photo by Ferdinand Reus, 2006

The Unclouded Day: Josiah K. Alwood, c. 1880


TC said...


The Staple Singers: Uncloudy Day

Myrna Summers & VOBB: Uncloudy Day

Ralph Stanley: Uncloudy Day

Dale said...

Tom, thanks for reminding me of this hymn. It streaks across the continent of my childhood.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and Angelica!

ACravan said...

The only words I can muster are to say that the lowermost image is about the most striking thing I've ever seen and that quality is enhanced by the words-and-pictures company it keeps here on Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to the Clarks. Curtis, Caroline and Jane

TC said...


Wonderful to hear from you. It's a dark rainy pre-dawn morning here, but thinking of you and Hoa and Waylon and Keaton causes a bright ray of light to break through the clouds of the mind. Angelica and a posse of demented felines send along their divers forms of love to you all from here, as, for sure, do I.

(By the by, about the hymn, check out that Myrna Summers sea-of-voices rendition...)

TC said...


The top and bottom pictures remind us that not everyone is feasting today. There's a world going on, we stand at the edge of it, apprehensively reflecting. But the tree of life seems to want to keep on blooming, perhaps miraculously, in the wasteland that's been made of much of the earth.

We require gentle blessings be scattered from the sky upon you and Caroline and Jane, on this holiday.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Coming from a religious background of little joy and no hymns(Roman Catholic), this has a power I can't begin to even wrap my wits (and guts) around.

This is the first time I've encountered it.

If ever anyone questioned song as poetry, one has only to point here. Glorious words.

And the Ralph Stanley version has great appeal to me ...

Happy Thanksgiving.


TC said...


I too was brought up Catholic. That great participatory swelling of emotion that we see in the Myrna Summers & co. rendition, we didn't have anything like that.

I'm reminded of certain performances of the poem-songs of Mahmoud Darwish by Marcel Khalifa, in which the entire large audience seems to be included in, and joining in, the totality of the expression.

Dr Ralph Stanley, a genius.

A glorious day to you, Don.

Nin Andrews said...

Wow! Beautiful. We only went to church for the hymns and the liturgy, which took up the first half hour of the service. Then my father insisted on leaving "before the bellyaching about God begins."
It was an Episcopalian church with old stained glass windows and very few people attending, and I had very little understanding of what was going on. My father said when I was old enough to think, I could learn the details, but until then he was giving us a cultural exposure to its archaic aspects . . .
At home we would play minister and run around in bathrobes shouting out, Let your lights so shine before men . . . .
But I digress. Thanks for the post and Happy Thanksgiving!

TC said...


All aspects of church seemed to me, as a child, dark, archaic, and God-whispery. The votive candles, the kneeling pads in the pews, the women & girls with hankies draped over their heads (so as not to offend God by using their heads, I guess).

I can still remember the Latin part of the liturgy. The English, not so much. Now why is that?

By the way, the selection of the top photo for this post was somewhat influenced by your Suzanne. And by my Somalian friend Mohamed.

Though I fear Mo might be somewhat less than thrilled by the "Christian" elements of the context, here.

Guess maybe we're all to be caught now and then reaching out for something to believe in, amid the blowing sand & wind & rain & c.



Wow, Johnny & I just listened to Myrna Summers doing "Uncloudy Day" (sun now breaking through clouds up there, is it any wonder?). And Ralph Stanley before that, followed by the Staple Singers -- thanks so much for these and the poem and photos on this Thanksgiving morning -- much for which to be thankful for (even though clouds still there against top of ridge. . .


first grey light in cloud against still
dark ridge, drops falling from branches
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

place transferred to placed,
selected “this sketch”

this that being is, is what
is stated, “is being”

orange of sunlight in cloud above ridge,
pelican gliding toward point on horizon

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

No Thanksgiving Day here in Hellas but that's no reason not to give thanks for this post.

TC said...

Vassilis, I am grateful to know you, my distant friend from the Argolid.

Steve, I am grateful to know you and Johnny, my not quite so distant friends from the Great Mesa and the Little Lagoon.

Yes, I have heard there was actually a bit of light chinking through the redwood here today... though alas I am shamed to say I was not awake to clamp my weary glims upon more than the first dim inklings of it.

Still those were swell.

The Staple Singers version of Uncloudy Day, on their first album (1959 on Vee-Jay, a local Chicago label), is a tune imprinted forever -- or at least for one more night, touch wood -- on the mind of someone for whom it evokes particularly vivid memories -- and the vivid ones are getting scarcer than the blurry, any more -- of getting to know an all time very best friend.

It's that friend to whom I'm forever most grateful.

She's asleep in the dark ten feet away.

One foot away a large hyperactive cat is also miraculously sleeping.

The freeway-feeder, reduced temporarily to a mere two lanes and pitted with ruts by road graders and anyway very little trafficked on this least busy cold midnight of the year, is for once almost as silent as a mere street.

Good time to say goodnight to another Thanksgiving, with thanks again to all the fine fair friends who are so kind as to waste time coming around here.