Skip to main content

Beach Books

(The best way to spend a morning. Or an afternoon. Heck, the whole day!)

Before I left, I told you what books I was taking with me on my holiday. This is what I ended up reading, in chronological order, and with thoughts:

A Suitable Boy - by Vikram Seth
A great and rolling novel that I am proud to have finished months after starting. I may have skimmed some sections, as my interest in Indian politics in 1951 is limited, and some of the story/commentary didn't really affect my appreciation or enjoyment of the bigger picture. But I do want to visit India. And I did care who Lata ended up with. I also cared about the rest of the Mehra & Kapoor families. I will say no more, lest you decide to pick up this behemoth of a book.

At one point, Lata (our protaganist, who is in the process of being married off to A Suitable Boy) quotes a poet named Clough. Her fragment intrigued me enough to look up the full poem, which I have not yet read, but is available here. The section she refers to reads:

There are two different kinds, I believe, of human attraction:
One which simply disturbs, unsettles, and makes you uneasy,
And another that poises, retains, and fixes and holds you.
I have no doubt, for myself, in giving my voice for the latter.
I do not wish to be moved, but growing where I was growing,
There more truly to grow, to live where as yet I had languished.

Mmhmm. Well said, Hugh Arthur.

Selected Poems - by William Carlos Williams
Speaking of poetry. I wasn't sure if I would find that WCW lived up to my hopes. But you know what? He did. Wow. WHAT. A. POET. I have so many favourites from this collection. I need to read the entirety of "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower" - its excerpts were phenomenal. For example:

I cannot say
that I have gone to hell
for your love
but often
found myself there
in your pursuit.
I do not like it
and wanted to be
in heaven. Hear me out.
Do not turn away.


I also loved "The Dance Russe" (hear him read it here!!!!) and "Queen-Anne's-Lace." I had to copy this excerpt from "Overture to a Dance of Locomotives" into my journal:

Covertly the hands of a great clock
go round and round! Were they to
move quickly and at once the whole
secret would be out and the shuffling
of all ants be done forever.

Think about that for a minute. And then another.

95 Poems - by e e cummings
e e cummings is something else. His poems are often difficult to read, because of their layout and strange delineation. This is my favourite example:




Others are not so difficult to read, but still amazingly stunning. Like this one:

when any mortal (even the most odd)

can justify the ways of man to God
i'll think it strange that normal mortals can
not justify the ways of God to man

or this one:

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Poems (a pocket classic) - by Emily Dickinson
Seriously, you'd think by this point I'd be poem-ed out. But I'm not. I'm just continually delighted. The first poem in this collection begins:

A Day! Help! Help! Another Day!
Your prayers, oh Passer by!

It made me smile - we have all had those days. This one confused but intrigued me:

I started Early -- Took my Dog --
And visited the Sea --
The Mermaids in the Basement
Came out to look at me --

And Frigates -- in the Upper Floor
Extended Hempen Hands --
Presuming Me to be a Mouse --
Aground -- upon the Sands --

But no Man moved Me -- till the Tide
Went past my simple Shoe --
And past my Apron -- and my Belt --
And past my Bodice -- too --

And made as He would eat me up --
As wholly as a Dew
Upon a Dandelion's Sleeve --
And then -- I started -- too --

And He -- He followed -- close behind --
I felt his Silver Heel
Upon my Ankle -- Then my Shoes
Would overflow with Pearl --

Until We met the Solid Town --
No One He seemed to know --
And bowing -- with a Mighty look --
At me -- The Sea withdrew --

And this one rendered me speechless:

He fumbles at your Soul
As Players at the Keys
Before they drop full Music on—
He stuns you by degrees—
Prepares your brittle Nature
For the Ethereal Blow
By fainter Hammers—further heard—
Then nearer—Then so slow
Your Breath has time to straighten—
Your Brain—to bubble Cool—
That scalps your naked Soul—

When Winds take Forests in the Paws—
The Universe—is still—

Fugitive Pieces - by Anne Michaels
Having exhausted my poetry resources for the week, I turned to fiction. Unintentionally, about a poet. And about WWII - a topic that endlessly fascinates me. This is a beautiful and lyrically written story and I recommend it.

The Plague Journal - by Michael O'Brien
This was an unplanned way to kill the afternoon after we'd checked out of our room and before we headed to the airport. Fascinating dystopian novel set in interior BC in the mid-90s. Canada has drifted into a near-totalitarian leftist government. Themes include freedom of speech, parenting & education, the written word, and family. It was pretty good. Lots of political/philosophical content. Made me think about what kind of plans I'll have for child-rearing if I become a parent some day.

Comments said…
Yay for reading!!! I love the poems you shared, especially the e e cummings one--i carry your heart with me :-)

And I'm so glad you liked a suitable boy! i looked up his other novels but i'm not sure they could compare...sigh...i bought used books today to take with me and i am excited.
Laura J said…
lata is the name of one of my favorite children in India.

What happened to The Writing Life?
afro-chick said…
poetry is cool.
being able to hear you, and see your face is WAY cooler.

I recently came across this little gem by a Japanese children's poet, Michio Mado



In a cage
of his own

Popular posts from this blog

What About Travis!?

I just watched Hope Floats, the second movie in my I-really-need-to-vegetate night. Now that we have more than three channels, there are so many quality programs on TV! Like movies in the middle of the week. I enjoyed many of the lines in this movie, including:

"I went home and told my mama you had a seizure in my mouth."
(referring to her first french-kissing experience)

"Dancing's just a conversation between two people. Talk to me."
(the conversation in our living room then went,
Girl 1: Only Harry Connick Jr. could say that line without it being incredibly cheezy.
Boy: Without it being cheezy? That's all I heard. Cheez, cheez, cheez.
Girl 2: Yeah, but it was sexy, sexy cheez...sigh.)
"Better do what she says, Travis. Grandma stuffs little dogs."

Bernice: At home we had a pet skunk. Mama used to call it Justin Matisse. Do you think that's just a coincidence? All day long she would scream, "You stink Justin Matisse!" Then one day she just…

Fostering FAQ: What's Her (Mom's) Story?

This is probably the second most common question I hear about the baby currently in our care, right after, "Will you keep her?"

It comes in many forms:

"So, what's her story?"
"Is her mom in the picture?"
"How did she end up in your home?
"Is her mom a drug addict?"
"How could a mom not love such a cute baby!"

I get it. It's natural curiousity, and I know I've asked similar questions of my friends who are adoptive parents.

But here's what I'm learning: a child's story is their own. And equally as important, the parent's story is their own.

Imagine how it might feel to hear that for the foreseeable future, you are not allowed to care for your child. On top of whatever difficult circumstances you are already in - perhaps poverty, social isolation, lack of adequate housing, domestic violence, intergenerational trauma, drug or alcohol dependency, low cognitive functioning, or a myriad of other complex strug…

Simone Weil: On "Forms of the Implicit Love of God"

Simone Weil time again! One of the essays in Waiting for God is entitled "Forms of the Implicit Love of God." Her main argument is that before a soul has "direct contact" with God, there are three types of love that are implicitly the love of God, though they seem to have a different explicit object. That is, in loving X, you are really loving Y. (in this case, Y = God). As for the X of the equation, she lists:

Love of neighbor Love of the beauty of the world Love of religious practices and a special sidebar to Friendship
“Each has the virtue of a sacrament,” she writes. Each of these loves is something to be respected, honoured, and understood both symbolically and concretely. On each page of this essay, I found myself underlining profound, challenging, and thought-provoking words. There's so much to consider that I've gone back several times, mulling it over and wondering how my life would look if I truly believed even half of these things...

Here are a few …