On My Blindness

By Peter Halstead

The astigmatic morning light explodes
Around the bed from where I slowly bridge
The incandescent gap between the roads
Of amber rays and distant foliage

Outside, the boughs and branches brightly lit
With all the swirling great myopic haze
Of day, where the scheming solar palette
Revises half my visions in a blaze

Of yellow counterfeits, like the prism
Of an infinite and unseen drama
Where clarity is in fact a schism
That can blind me to a diorama

Dimly built from eyes that focus where
The world ends in your hair.

Tippet Alley
January 6th and 21st, 1993

November 28th, 2021


I woke up, without glasses and blind as usual, to the morning sun rainbowing my hair, which twirled around my face like a prismatic tunnel. Only the near-blind can see such sights which, no matter how far-fetched, are in fact reality, in the same way we see more colors than dogs do, or that certain scientific cameras or even ordinary cameras with filters on see a greater range or at least a different range of colors than the human eye.

Why assume we are the last word on anything, the way a dog assumes it knows who is invited and who is not? Blindness has always been a requisite for prophets, as sight distracts from truth, and senses get in the way of sense.

In the way Platonic reality draws pictures which come from an unseen multiverse but which paint (or shadow) translates into our half-real vision so we can believe in it in our flat world (although normally we believe in the conspiracy theories of half-real icons but not in the unseen and more complex essences), so painting as an art creates higher truths to which we are often blind, being chained to superficial illusions rather than to the fragile inklings of a deeper world.

I based this sonnet on the ten-syllable lines of Milton’s “On His Blindness,” although Milton, Petrarch, and Shakespeare occasionally vary the syllables, a libertine precedent which no doubt led to free verse.

January 6th, 1993