Wednesday, August 29, 2007

more poetry

Ok, so I'm slightly obsessed with poetry lately, but I think that's ok; my guess is that it is kind of an epiphenomena of what's been going on with my soul as of late. So when I was at camp a few weeks ago, somehow Shakespeare's sonnets came up in discussion, and I, like virtually everyone else, had a sonnet still tucked away in the corners of my brain that I had memorized during high school. So I began to recall it, and as I did it was as if I were reading it for the first time, even though "I" "knew" the poem "by heart", it felt more like I was discovering the poem anew as I spoke it out loud, and in some ways it felt almost as if the poem were reading me, not I it. And it was an incredibly beautiful experience.

A large part of the beauty of this particular sonnet, for me, is in saying it out loud. For when I let the lines carry my voice, the very act of speaking the words with raw honesty seems to carry my body to a different place. The line that begins "Like to the lark..." always leaves me breathless with a racing heart by the time I get to the end of it, because I never pause between that line and the next. So partly out of physiology and partly because of the words themselves and what they point to, I am left gasping at the beauty of it all. And then the last two lines become a sort of contented sigh, passing through me like truths that cannot be harnessed, denied or controlled.

I am still swept away by the beauty of these words and the huge meaning they express in such brevity, amazing. There is a sense that I "understand" this poem now far better than I did when I memorized it for school, but there is also a sense that I have always "understood" the poem, in that the way I speak the words now is the result of continuous testing and re-speaking when I first learned them, and that too is a strange truth in itself. Perhaps this sonnet-remembrance experience has more in common with my spiritual journey than I first may have thought. Both are journeys of rediscovering something learned long ago that suddenly, under the right circumstances, has burst open with a supernova of meaning; a supernova that leaves both glittering beauty and a dark black hole..... kind of like the poem... Hm.

Sonnet # 29

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.



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