Sunday 2 September 2012

Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you - Harold Bloom

There are times when you simply don't have the words. To express what needs to be expressed. To undo the muddle of thoughts and feelings clogged up inside. To simply speak and be heard.

At the same time, somebody else will have all the words. Will express exactly what should be expressed. Will undo and unclog your muddle of thoughts and feelings. And will be heard clearly over the world's din.

An author with such eloquence is a delight to the soul.  Especially when it is stuck. Or simply dissatisfied. Even momentarily. Abstractly. Unconsciously.

This is the joy of reading. Those moments of unbridled delight when the reader hears words spoken in such a way and with such intimacy that it is both alarming and assuaging. The release and relief. The escape and the rediscovery.

You will know by now that I'm really not a poetry reader, as much as it would please me to be one. All the same, this weekend, I've been thinking much about W.B.Yeats' words in He wishes for the cloths of Heaven.

I know so little about Yeats that it amounts to nothing. So little in fact that I once sang one of his poems for an exam and have only now realised he wrote it. But I have read that he wrote to be read aloud. So I put this to the test with the collection of his works I have just acquired. Reading aloud to my cats. The words did indeed trip elegantly and gracefully off my inexperienced tongue. I was impressed. The cats were less so.

He wishes for the cloths of Heaven is beautiful read aloud or not.  It strikes cord after cord within.  Such a tangible beauty that I don’t mind knowing nothing about poetry. Or about Yeats.  The sentiment of love is so strong, the giving of oneself so complete. And the final statement so stunning: "Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

Such power. Such vulnerability. It touches me and I'm not sure why. But it seems to speak from deep within me. And I like the sensation. Which is why I believe that reading is always such an irresistible joy...

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