One of the benefits of an active reading life is that when you read not only for pleasure but for improvement, then similar themes in different authors’ works seem to just float to you. Unbidden. Like synergy.
Today I read e.e. cummings’ Love is a Place:
love is a place
& through this place of
(with brightness of peace)
yes is a world
& in this world of
The thought of love as a place and yes as a world reminded me so much of Emily Dickinson’s notion of dwelling in Possibility:
I want to live there. Perhaps I already do. It seems to me that to live in a place of love, to dwell in possibility isn’t the overly sweet, superficial existence some might take it for. This is not about feel-good mantras. It’s not a place for someone with no substance who is determined to pretend that nothing bad ever happens. It’s more a matter of making the choice to try to hang on to that spirit of love and possibility when things are going horribly bad. Sometimes you will fail, of course. But that’s what true friends are for. Or art. Or great literature. To remind you.
Like the woman in Waterhouse’s The Soul of the Rose. Find something beautiful. Hang on to it.
Notice the last bit of Dickinson’s poem: /The spreading wide my narrow Hands/To gather Paradise/. This brings to mind Christina Rossetti’s poem, which I used in this post I stretch my hands and catch at Hope
De Profundis by Christina Rossetti
Oh why is heaven built so far,
Oh why is earth set so remote?
I cannot reach the nearest star
That hangs afloat.
I would not care to reach the moon,
One round monotonous of change;
Yet even she repeats her tune
Beyond my range.
I never watch the scatter’d fire
Of stars, or sun’s far-trailing train,
But all my heart is one desire,
And all in vain:
For I am bound with fleshly bands,
Joy, beauty, lie beyond my scope;
I strain my heart, I stretch my hands,
And catch at hope.
Dickinson,dwelling in Possibility, spreads her hands to gather Paradise. Rossetti stretches her hands to catch at Hope. We can’t become complacent. We must be permanently reaching, stretching, and ready to grab at Hope wherever we find it.
Reading all three poems together strengthens my belief that I can choose to live my life in a place of love and dwell in possibility. Is it a permanent place? Maybe. But life has its own rhythms and we have to follow the ebb and flow. We can strike a balance between hope and melancholy. Both have their usefulness.
Or at least, that’s how I read it. You may read these works in a different way entirely. That’s why poetry is so much fun.
Embracing the Beauty of Melancholy