A Poet, a Playwrite, and a Man of Letters
Here are three other books I bought at the library book sale. They, along with the book of criticism from yesterday, were 25¢ each, so you can imagine how lucky I was to show up late and buy what I did. Hoards of people arrived up when the library opened and picked most shelves clean. Birds of prey are less thorough tearing apart carcasses.
Two girls, in particular, did a fine job of ruining it for everyone else. They sat like pirates picking through their spoils, two towering piles of books at least forty volumes high climbing up from between their legs. I saw an early edition of Leaves of Grass at the top of the pile and asked if they planned to buy all those books.
I thought the one in the wolf t-shirt was going to deck me. She confirmed they were pillaging the library (my words) and had the nerve to toss me a defiant look. I slit my eyes, nodded my head in acceptance and gave myself a mental high-five for not telling her to take her book of poetry and get lost in the woods.
Library kerfuffle, narrowly avoided.
I bought The Selected Poems by Robert Browning, a 1949 printing of Best Plays of Shakespeare, and The Noble Voice by Mark Van Doren. I thumbed through all three, but I don’t know how quick will get to reading them. Of the three, The Noble Voice is the most interesting to me since it is a book of analysis and discussion. Reading an analysis of a classic piece of literature is far less dry than it sounds, and I am amazed at the nuance I miss as an average reader.
For example, I recently read an article discussing almond trees as symbols of watchfulness and promise in art and literature. This relates back to several passages in the Old and New Testament. They can also represent thoughtlessness, new life, and the coming of spring. I have been meaning to create a composition on a passage I enjoyed from Chronicle of a Death Foretold, but couldn’t find a decent picture of an almond grove, which featured heavily in certain scenes. Now I want to reread the book with that article on almond trees in mind to see how my understanding of the story shifts.
As I was taking pictures, the book of poems by Browning opened up to this page. I thought it was appropriate given yesterday’s post. Truly, there is a place in our lives for reading of all sorts.
I can hardly have little doubt but that my writing has been, in the main, too hard for many I should have been pleased to communicate with; but I never designedly tried to puzzle people, as some of my critics have supposed. On the other hand, I never pretended to offer such literature as should be a substitute for a cigar or game of dominos to an idle man. So, perhaps on the whole I get my deserts and something over,–not a crowd but a few I value more. Let me remember gratefully that I may keep you, and the friends you mention, among these: while you, in turn, must remember me as
Yours, my dear sir, very faithfully