By Grand Central Station …
These have always seemed to me the most evocative words in the English language. They are followed by “I sat down and wept.” I read Elizabeth Smart’s book many years ago, not really understanding the story, but in love with the language.
This Canadian woman fell in love, first with the poetry of George Barker, an English poet, and then met him and carried on an extended love affair with him while he lived in the USA. Her poetic novella draws on the rhythm and beauty of the Psalms, Song of Solomon, other biblical references and allusions to literature, and is considered to be a unique and exceptional composition. I have been deeply influenced by her writing and the concept of falling in love with language, and through language. Here are a couple of excerpts,
O where does he stalk like a horse in pastures very far afield? I cannot hear him, and silence writes more terrible things than he can ever deny. Is there a suspicion the battle is lost?
Certainly he killed me fourteen nights in succession. To rise again from such slaughter Messiah must indeed become a woman. He said this absence was the mere mechanics of the thing. But It is not the same.
Perhaps I am his hope. But then she is his present. And if she is his present, I am not his present. Therefore, I am not, and I wonder why no-one has noticed I am dead and taken the trouble to bury me. For I am utterly collapsed. I lounge with glazed eyes, or weep tears of sheer weakness. Grand Central Station
We have the soul-torn couplets of David and Solomon, we can read the anguish of men who love whom they ought not to have, or whom they cannot have, or have whom they do not know what to with. But where can we read the poetry of Leah and Dinah, of Michal and Tamar, taken and not loved?
Blake’s Sunflowers by Elizabeth Smart
Why did Blake say
‘Sunflower weary of time’?
Every time I see them
they seem to say
Now! with a crash
and absolutely delighting
in their own round brightness.
Now I see what you mean.
Storms and frost have battered
their bright delight
and though they are still upright
nothing could say dejection
more than their weary
I give you Elizabeth Smart and George Barker, both authors born in 1913, and so an appendix of sorts to the previous post.