Just under the gun. My reading was enjoyable but my writing about this month's installment of At the Source might be a little perfunctory--am just going to share a very few highlights. I've been under the weather for the last week or so and dragging, if that is any excuse. February always flies by and even though it is a mere two days shorter than most other months, all of a sudden it just seems like March arrives. Whoosh, if you know what I mean.
So. Gillian Clarke. She's a poet and you can tell, because she is to in tune with language and words and meanings. She is also a reader and so is a reader's writer (isn't every writer a reader's writer? Maybe so, but she writes in a way that tantalizes and I can appreciate that). February's journal entry is titled "Land". This is how it starts . . .
"On the cusp between winter and spring. Mostly it's still indoor weather when I'm glad of bookish days. The afternoons are gaining light, a minute at a time, but there's no shine to the garden."
Yes, that is how it has been for me as well. March is coming in like a lion since it is bitterly cold and snowing lightly with the promise of more, and in a higher intensity on Monday night into Tuesday. I keep fantasizing over my morning walk without layers of clothes, ear muffs, gloves, wool scarf. But while my morning walk is in the dark still, I can (on a sunny day) return home before the sun has set and left me in the dark once more. It is, however slowly in coming, giving me just a little hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
This is how Clarke plays with words. "Wellbeing. Being well. A well of being." An artist friend said to Clarke--"You know hoe lovely it is when you're sitting by a window in a big chair and it's raining, and you have a book and you think, 'How lucky I am! How lucky!' That's a 'found' poem. I may struggle with poetry, but that is a poem even I can understand and appreciate.
"Those with a talent for sudden, inexplicable joy will know exactly what Sandra meant. It describes being alive, having choice and chance and the gift of pleasure. It's about the solitary but not lonely individual relishing the simple fact of being, the pleasures of body and mind. Sight, sound and touch are explicit in that scene, ans taste and smell are implicit since the rain, the window, the chair imply a familiar room, its privacy, possession and pleasures, perhaps a fresh brew of coffee, the smell of rain, a street outside, and a city."
I do like that. If Clarke continues to return again and again to the pleasures of solitude and privacy--she and I and this book are going to get on very well indeed.
Did you know the Welsh word, glas, means both blue and green? And why not since this is a country where there are so many subtle gradations of the color in hill country. "The many tones of green of the close fields shift through blues and violets as the land rolls into the distance."
Clarke was reading Colm Toibin's The Master at the time she was writing her journal. I am going to pull my copy of the shelf. Henry James, who the book is about, has always struck me as one very formidable man. But if this is what he is like, and granted it is Toibin's rendering of him thus, I think I can understand and relate to James better than I think.
"He (Toibin about James) is wonderful on the pleasures of interiors, and of solitude."
"He shows how James turned away always at the last moment from emotional commitment, preferring the pleasures of solitude. Toibin conjures the lovely interiors of apartments, villas, houses in New England and Europe, and in James's beloved Lamb house in Rye, where even the walled garden is a room."
* * * * *
"There's a side to all writers that loves nothing better than a book, a big chair, window."
There's a side to readers that loves that, too.