I have always kept ducks, he said, even as a child, and the colors of their plumage, in particular the dark green and snow white, seemed to me the only possible answer to the questions that are on my mind.
~ W.G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn
According to that old parable of Bede’s, we pass like birds through the open doors of the mead hall, from darkness to light and then to darkness again. The light is the life of sense and memory, the hands and words and sights that shepherd our mortal days. The darkness is our ignorance of what comes before and what follows – prior to birth, after death. We make trouble for ourselves when we abstract our minds from the light of the mead hall to peer in from outside, as if darkness shed a light of its own.