This poem is based on an extended metaphor in which life is a dance and the dancers are minds. The dancers shadow each other’s movements without ever touching.
The basic ideas in the poem come from the book A Course in Miracles. I will comment on each stanza immediately after the stanza, so you won’t have to keep moving up and down the page. If you don’t want to read my commentary, just skip over it.
This poem was written using a type of stanza that Robert Burns (1759-1796) popularized. This Scottish stanza, or six-line stave, rhymes aaabab. The “a” lines have 8 syllables, while the “b” lines have 4 syllables.
Like shadow dancers in a play,
There is a script that we obey:
Our minds and those that we survey
Don’t live as one.
We circle close, then move away—
We seek to shun.
Originally, we lived in union with each other and with our Creator, but long ago we made the decision to separate. We promised to never fully join with each other but to always maintain some distance between our thoughts and minds.
Within this dance, this earthly ball,
There is a gap between us all.
It holds our separate minds in thrall,
For we’re afraid
To be the first to breach the wall
And look for aid.
There is a gap between our minds and this gap is maintained by fear. We can promote the end of the separation and work for healing by joining with others in a common purpose. But to do this we have to reject the mindset of our ego, which wants to keep us separate and keep the illusion of independence going.
Though separate lives are not ideal,
We’re still afraid that love will heal.
Though lonely, we still often feel
We’d stay unknown.
And so we strive with eager zeal
To waltz alone.
Ironically, we are afraid of love and healing. We believe that isolation and separation, maintained by all kinds of attack, are salvation. We don’t want to share our thoughts with others because we are ashamed of some of them, but this maintains the separation and leads to loneliness.
We fear the love that brings the light,
For love insists that we unite.
Our masquerade occurs at night,
So we can’t see
That if we ceased to shadow fight,
We would be free.
We fear the light because it reveals all of our thoughts. We fear union because we are used to separation. Freedom comes from joining with the will of our Creator, but we believe that freedom comes from attack and independence. We fight with others so as not to join with them.
Our bodies cannot fill the space
Between our minds when we embrace.
Our fleshly unions can’t replace
What we await.
Our minds must find a resting place,
A peaceful state.
Our bodies cannot join, but our minds can. We often use other bodies for what we can gain for ourselves, alone and separately. Thus, we miss out on true communication and communion, which is of the mind.
When two agree they want true peace,
Then all our minds will gain release,
And love for others will increase
And fill each heart.
We’ll dance as one and never cease—
A joyful art.
When two people join and decide to break the promise to remain separate, the whole world will change. However, people must still overcome their fear of their original state of union. Our original state is one of love, joy, peace, and union. We can become aware of this original and eternal state by letting our thoughts be reversed so we practice forgiveness instead of attack. Forgiveness, or the overlooking of mistakes, leads to union, while attack leads to separation.