The murmur of the outer Infinite...

It's been a difficult few days generally, and everything feels generally topsy-turvy, unfortunately a chronically intermittent condition when I am in a house, I think. But irrelevant to the subject. The point is, that I am now getting old enough to actually feel all the htings that when I was young and romantic I wanted to feel. Now that I am old, these things no longer feel like grand gestures,t ehy feel sort of stunted and uncomfortably out of place. I finished a book earlier today, and had to go pick up some dinner, (mucked up the timing on having the planned dinner ready, of course), and wanted a new book to read if I ended up waiting at the store. I'd checked out a book of poetry by Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, from the library, but I am not up to doing something that takes brains and creativity to understand, tonight, so I fumbled the shelves trying to find a spine that felt friendly. It would have been a good day for Kilmeny of the Orchard, but alas, I only listened to that online, and I feel, illogically enough, like I ought to read something at least that I have not read this year, as I feel obligated to finish up the 5-squared blog, thingie, goal, stuff. So, at the last minute, knowing that I was probably delaying too long already and everyone's dinner would be cold, on top of being yet another night of fast food, I just plunged in my hand and grabbed something. Aurora Leigh, Elizabeth Barret Browning.

Oh, Jason, you poor little fool, of all the books.

Aurora Leigh is an old acquaintance, and EBB is an older one, one of those poets I didn't really read so much as stare at her picture, and dream up lives for, so the book had a warm, comforting heft to it in my hand (although, sadly, it's kind of a very cheap printing of the book). Amanda knows her as the poet I read out loud in a voice her mother and her described as being like a Catholic priest at litany, to put Laurence to sleep as a baby. Oh, memory! Oh life, oh me! (see, Whitman could say that as a declaration, for me, it's like I'm berating myself). The first stanza, friends, read in the driveway, hwile turning on the car:

Of writing many books there is no end;
And I who have written much in prose and verse
For others' uses, will write now for mine,--
As when you paint your portrait for a friend,
Who keeps it in a drawer and looks at it
Long after he has ceased to love you, just
To hold together what he was and is.

I could go on, but I won't, but it was, I will just say, very difficult to be polite and conversational with the very nice gentleman at the restaurant, who asked what I was reading. It's strange to me, I'd always pictured my reading life as being broad, that I'd try to read mroe and mroe. I wanted to be the brave, conquistadorial reader like Amanda, who can plausibly dream of, say, reading the entire list of books that have won a Pulitzer, ever. That was what I always thought would be what I would try for, the well-read man. I think I've given up on that. There just doesn't seem to be any reason for it, and I suppose I'm honestly just not that kind fo person, I'm not well read, just like I don't have a wide circle of friends, and I feel a pang of guilt when I leave a house or a car behind to some new owner. When I fele particularly sensitive, when my mind is most open to the emotional import of somethign new, it contracts, reflexively, it cloutches on to old, kind friends, and murmurs back and forth with them. Anyway, it was kind of Ms Browning to lend me a shoulder today, I guess I'm more writing a sort of thank you than anything, not that you can tell from this ramble I suppose.


Amanda said...

I have friends to fall back on, too, though mine probably aren't nearly as important to the creation of literary cannon as EBB. I always fall back on Harry Potter.

Julie said...

Books have always been my friends and taken me places in my dreams. I have to say that they aren't as literary either. As a child, I'd fall into "Superfudge" or the adventures of the Boxcar children. In my teens, I loved "A Wrinkle in Time" or "Little House on the Prairie." Now, I appreciate literature like "O pioneers!" or entertainment like Harry Potter which still doesn't seem to be as important like EBB.