Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

At the Darkest Point

As midwinter approaches, John McCarthy explores how we cope with dark times, how we express our feelings and how we find our way through.

At the moment of mid-winter, John McCarthy explores how we cope with dark times, how we express our feelings and how we find a way through.

Dark and difficult times are part of our human experience. On the news we encounter human suffering - on a scale so massive and distant from our immediate lives, whether man made or as a result of natural disasters, it is often impossible to take in or begin to understand.

Most of us have more local and intimate dark times to cope with. Sickness, loss of loved ones, financial worries - these are all examples of darkness that can come in the middle of the day.

And there is also the dark that is pure loneliness.

Since first reading it as a schoolboy, John has found solace in George Herbert's poem, The Flower, which emphasises renewal and return after the dark tempests of the night.

There's a new commission from the poet Jen Hadfield who sends us a postcard from the winter darkness of Shetland, readings of poems by Rilke and Byron, and the composer and sound artist Janek Schaefer tells the story of how he came to create a piece of music - White Lights of Divine Darkness (for Sir John Tavener).

The readers are Joshua Elliot, Serena Jennings and Jen Hadfield.

Produced by Natalie Steed
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

30 minutes

Last on

Sun 20 Dec 2015 23:30

Music Played

  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Aria (Goldberg Variations) BWV 988

    Performer: Jenő Jandó.
    • The Very Best of Bach.
    • Naxos.
    • Naxos: 8.552103-04.
    • 01.
  • John Dowland

    In Darkness Let Me Dwell

    Performer: Iestyn Davies - Counter-tenor, Thomas Dunford – Lute, Jonathan Manson - Viol.
    • Flow My Tears.
    • Wigmore Live.
    • WHLIVE0074.
    • 19.
  • Richard Hawley

    Our Darkness

    Performer: Richard Hawley.
    • Lady’s Bridge.
    • MUTE RECORDS LIMITED.
    • CDSTU-MM278.
    • 10.
  • Peter Maxwell Davies

    Ave Maris Stella (i)

    Performer: Gemini.
    • Ave Maris Stella.
    • Metier.
    • MSV28503.
    • 4.
  • Janek Schaefer

    White Lights Of Divine Darkness (For Sir John Tavener)

    Performer: Janek Schaefer.
    • Luxury Beyond the City of Dreams.
    • Dekorder.
    • Dekorder 077.
    • 01.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Aria (Goldberg Variations) BWV 988

    Performer: Jenő Jandó.
    • The Very Best of Bach.
    • Naxos.
    • Naxos: 8.552103-04.
    • 01.
  • Bob Dylan

    Meet Me in the Morning

    Performer: Bob Dylan.
    • Blood on the Tracks.
    • CBS.
    • CDCBS-69097.
    • 06.

Readings

Title: Darkness (extract)

Author:  Lord Byron

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 019953733X


Title: Alone (extract)

Synopsis: Extract from a memoir by the explorer and adventurer Richard Byrd who, in 1934, spent 5 months alone in the Antarctic winter dark.

Author:  Richard E ByrdPublisher: Palmer Press

ISBN:  1447424107


Title: Postcard from Darkness

Synopsis: A specially commissioned piece from the Shetland poet Jen Hadfield

Author:  Jen Hadfield

Publisher: 

ISBN: 


Title: You darkness, that I come from

Synopsis: Author:  Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Robert Bly

Publisher: Harper Perennial

ISBN: 0060907274


Title: The Flower

Synopsis: Author:  George Herbert

Publisher: Penguin Classics

ISBN: 0141392045

Synopsis: an extract from Lord Byron’s long poem, Darkness


LINKS:

The picture used for this programme is Nightfishin’ by the Shetland artist Kristi Cumming.

http://www.kristicumming.com/

Jen Hadfield’s blog http://rogueseeds.blogspot.co.uk/

Professor Janek Schaefer’s blog http://www.audioh.com/

Broadcasts