I have always loved the written word. I don’t think I have ever just read a book, I devour them. I can remember receiving red faux leather bond copies of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Frances Hodgsons Burnett’s The Secret Garden, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Charles Dickens Great Expectations to name a few.
The front cover of each was embossed in a gold print and I remember tracing the letters of each title with a finger before opening the smooth pages and losing myself in the stories held within.
These books were like old friends, reread over and over. The characters held within seeming real and keeping me company on those rainy wet days when I didn’t want to venture far from the warmth of home.
I have never lost my love of reading, a gift I took for granted as I grew up. I realise now that it was a gift that was cultivated, encouraged and supported at home from a very young age.
A love of books seems to be an intrinsic part of my being. It doesn’t matter if it’s a beautifully bond novel or a functional looking text book. Each holds a world of possibilities and a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be found.
It is with a touch of embarrassment that I admit I have never really liked poetry. I know, I know………How could I say such a thing!
I really thought I’d finish my English degree with a new found love and understanding of this elusive form of expression……….I didn’t. I can and do appreciate poetry but extracting meaning and understanding the nuances of it has always remained just outside of my grasp.
I just didn’t get it the way others did, the words did not speak to me, not even slightly. I did make it through the many poetry modules I was faced with, with lots of gnashing of teeth, a few tears (of pure frustration) and lots of creative adaptation of questions to suit my particular train of thought. After all social and gender inequality has been about for a long time now.
So imagine my surprise when I found a poet whose work I appreciated but more importantly got. Yep, I was over the moon.
Walt Whitman’s poetry just seemed to click with me. Maybe it’s due to the fact that he writes organically and his poetry is free flowing. It could be the fact that he writes in an autobiographical manner using sociological themes with lyrical ease. I can’t put my finger on it, I just know that I am drawn to his poetry and I somehow get it.
But then I suppose that really poetry is subjective and that each of us will take a different meaning and a different understanding with us from each reading of a poem.
I believe that I never got or understood poetry in my childhood or early adult life because I was reading it as part of a set curriculum. Another individual was shaping how I read and understood the works that were offered. In the past few years I have read poetry for my own enjoyment. Putting it down if it didn’t appeal to me rather than making it make sense to gain a grade. And you know, I have found that poetry is as enjoyable to read as novels and plays. It hasn’t replaced listening to music yet………..but maybe one day.
Shut not Your Doors
Shut not your doors to me proud libraries ,
For that which was lacking on all your well-fill’d shelves, yet needed most,I bring,
Froth from the war emerging, a book i have made,
The words of my book nothing, the drift of it every thing,
A book separate, not link’d with the rest nor felt by the intellect,
But you ye untold latencies will thrill to every page.
(The Complete Poems of Walt Whitman, 2006)
Hope you have a great weekend.