Twinkle, Sparkle, Shimmer


Twinkle: it’s as much about dark as light.

A visible twinkle always has a counterpart–a yin to its yang, eyes closed and opened.

Unlike a sparkle, a shimmer, or a beacon, a twinkle is an on-and-off illumination.  Its hallmark is that, intermittently, no light is emitted from whatever source gives it life.

It has something to do with depth: a shimmer quivers at the surface, but a twinkle in the eye comes from animation within.

Unlike a gleam and akin to a sparkle, a twinkle can come from an impy, sometimes conspiratorial impulse.  A twinkle does not take itself too seriously.

It also has to do with duration.  A lighthouse beam flashes on and off, but its sustained notes endure beyond the life of a twinkle.

A steady light source can segue into a mere twinkle: the wind may lift branches or vines across its surface, giving the illusion of waxing and waning light; an electrical pulse may weaken and flicker.

Cities and towns will twinkle as some parents finish reading their children’s bedtime stories and click off lamps, while others return to dark homes and reset their points of light on the landscape.


A twinkle is often anchored in light seen from a distance, as it was in “Ulysses“:

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs . . . .
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

It may be Scrooge-like to observe that the erstwhile twinkle seems slightly overused in Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” where it appeared twice in just a handful of lines:

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

To be fair, this was likely a well-considered poetic device.  In the repeat Moore captured two facets of twinkling, one in time and one in manner: fleet and fleeting.

And there’s one other thing about a twinkle: magic.


About Stephanie

In her spare time, Stephanie works full-time, and then some, as an attorney. She has published articles and delivered talks in arcane fields like forensic evidentiary issues, jury instructions, and expert scientific witness preparation. She also is an adjunct professor at a law school on the banks of the Charles and loves that dirty water, as she will always think of Boston as her home. You are welcome to take a look at her Facebook author page, or follow @SMartinGlennon on Twitter. All content on this blog, unless otherwise attributed, is (c) 2012-2020 by Stephanie M. Glennon and should not be reproduced (in any form other than re-blogging in accordance with Wordpress protocol and the numerous other wee buttons at the bottom of each post) without the express permission of the domain holder.
This entry was posted in Love and Loss and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Twinkle, Sparkle, Shimmer

  1. Amy says:

    Love this twinkle post! Beautiful, Stephanie!

  2. akosirima says:

    Twinkle, 😀 I hope you may continue to twinkle my friend nice post and wonderful pictures

  3. Magic indeed, just like your lovely and varied photos….a study on twinkling!

  4. Dalo 2013 says:

    Beautiful photographs ~ and they are matched by your words. Magic, indeed!

  5. Marie Keates says:

    Lovely pictures and words. It’s the season of twinkles.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s