Monday, July 20, 2015

Art for the Intellect

Words can be everything from gorgeous to deadly, and crafting them into something resembling a novel or a poem is emotionally taxing. Emotionally taxed people tend to need encouragement, but encouraging writers can be tricky. If you’re not a writer, maybe this can encourage you, too. Some things are worth loving and working for, and art is one of those things.

Here's line from one of my favorite poems:
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
from “Sonnet XVII” by Pablo Neruda

I keep this excerpt on my desktop at work, along with lines by ee cummings and "The Old Astronomer" by Sarah Williams*. Sometimes when I think I can’t look at another “real work” job, I’ll open up the sticky notes app and stare at them. Neruda’s words are simple, but I love them.

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved…

These words whisper of the chocolate I hid in my dresser while studying abroad. The guilty pleasure Netflix shows we all binge on. Romeo and Juliet sneaking kisses on balconies. I think we’ve all had something delicious that begs to be hidden from other people, if only to keep it ours. We humans have a strange capacity to love that which is not entirely in the light, but not necessarily evil.

…in secret, between the shadow and the soul

When I hear these words in my head, I picture a soul in a pretty gilded box, resting in the silky darkness of a cave. Something is between the soul and the rest of the shadows in that space. The idea mesmerizes me. What could possibly fit between a shadow and the thing it’s next to? It would have to be so small, or at least theoretical. Maybe it’s not even something we know is there.

So. Feeling discouraged or uninspired? Read some sonnets. Remember that words are art for the intellect, and every time you write, you have a chance to create something that someone else loves so much they write an entire blog about it. #lifegoals, right?

Here’s the sonnet in its entirety, which is a wonder to behold:

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

These musings have been brought to you by Michelle, who generally hates hashtags unless they can be used ironically or for other humor. 

*To put your curiosity to rest, those lines are:
“Love is the voice under all silences, the hope which has no opposite in fear; the strength so strong mere force is feebleness: the truth more first than sun, more last than star...”
― from “Poem (being to timelessness as it’s to time)” by ee cummings

Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light / I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

― from "The Old Astronomer" by Sarah Williams

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