Wednesday, September 26, 2007

an after dinner sleep

I've been reading a lot lately, because I'm beginning to believe that if there is any hope that I will ever be more than an invalid it lies in writing. I used to be a good writer, I wrote poetry and stories that I could imagine other people enjoying if I ever let them read them. All that is gone now, I feel like I've had a lobotomy; I am empty of whatever spark I used to have.

But if it's possible to train to be a good writer, when you don't have a natural skill for it, then I think that the only way to do it is by reading the work of great writers. So, I read. It doesn't seem to be doing any good. If anything, it seems to be swamping my own words with those of others... but since my own words aren't anything much, well.

When I used to write poetry, I worshiped T.S. Eliot; still do, although I have not read much of his work lately. Eliot and Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath have been my favorite poets for a long time. For every point in my life there has been a bit of poetry from one of them that has expressed my thoughts better than my thoughts express themselves. For now, that poem is "Gerontion" by Eliot. I'll put a few lines of it here, in honor of T. S. Eliot's birthday- which is today.

HERE I am, an old man in a dry month,
Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain.
I was neither at the hot gates
Nor fought in the warm rain
Nor knee deep in the salt marsh, heaving a cutlass,
Bitten by flies, fought.
My house is a decayed house,
And the jew squats on the window sill, the owner,
Spawned in some estaminet of Antwerp,
Blistered in Brussels, patched and peeled in London.
The goat coughs at night in the field overhead;
Rocks, moss, stonecrop, iron, merds.
The woman keeps the kitchen, makes tea,
Sneezes at evening, poking the peevish gutter.
I an old man,
A dull head among windy spaces.

Signs are taken for wonders. “We would see a sign!”
The word within a word, unable to speak a word,
Swaddled with darkness. In the juvescence of the year
Came Christ the tiger

In depraved May, dogwood and chestnut, flowering judas,
To be eaten, to be divided, to be drunk
Among whispers; by Mr. Silvero
With caressing hands, at Limoges
Who walked all night in the next room;
By Hakagawa, bowing among the Titians;
By Madame de Tornquist, in the dark room
Shifting the candles; Fräulein von Kulp
Who turned in the hall, one hand on the door. Vacant shuttles
Weave the wind. I have no ghosts,
An old man in a draughty house
Under a windy knob.

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