I've been writing about this dark, chilly rainy day--the honesty of its intentions, the worlds it evokes--from Macbeth, with its secret sins and bad intentions, to the not-quite howling of the wind between my house and my neighbor's, to memories of childhood, when rain meant reading all day on my bed, lost in a world of words.

I remember the first time a book made me cry. I was 16 and three quarters through Look Homeward, Angel  by Thomas Wolfe, which, alas, seems cloying now, but, to a freshman reader, was the world transfigured, the other reality of story that language creates, encompassing, absolute--what Keats says in his sonnet about reading Homer in Chapman's translation captures this moment: it's the part where he compares himself to Cortez (actually, it was Balboa) the moment the explorer first saw the Pacific ocean:

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific--and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise--
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

As I turned the page and read that Eugene's older brother Ben had died, I cried out, Oh, no and wept.

I don't actually remember whether it was raining, but today feels like that day--when the walls of one's room are comforting, when the door is closed, when all there is is what the next phrase says as the story unrolls like a new road to an old, old place you hope is really there.



 


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