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16th-century beacon hut in Culmstock, Devon, England

A beacon is an intentionally conspicuous device designed to attract attention to a specific location. A common example is the lighthouse, which draws attention to a fixed point that can be used to navigate around obstacles or into port.


  • So he walks the path at nightfall with a bundle in his hand. Into a nest of cedar bark and twisted grass he lays the coal and feeds it with his breath. It dances and then subsides. Smoke pools darkly as the grasses melt to black and then erupt into flame, climbing one stem and then another. All around the meadow, others do the same, setting in the grass a crackling ring of fire that quickens and gathers, white smoke curling upward in the fading light, breathing into itself, panting across the slope until its convective gasp sets the night alight. A beacon to bring their brothers home.
  • Founded on rock and facing the night-fouled sea
    A beacon blinks at its own brilliance,
    Over and over with cutlass gaze
    Solving the Gordian waters ...
  • The beacon-blaze unsheathing turns
    The face of darkness pale
    And now with one grand chop gives clearance to
    Our human visions . . .

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