Innocence and Experience

There are reasons you should never EVER open the floodgates to tears.  Like the little Dutch boy, you should always keep your finger in the dyke to stop the deluge.  As well as crying in yoga, I sobbed my way through the last 2 songs in a (candle-lit) spin class Lisa took me to in New York.  On the plane home, they were showing “The Odd Life of Timothy Green”.  It is a Jennifer Garner movie in which she and he husband are unable to conceive – and yet a 4-year old boy magically appears to complete their family for a short time.  Yeah, it was a big tear-jerker for me.  The movie on the way over was slightly less emotional: Liberal Arts.  I reminded me of my student days.

I read English language and literature at St Anne’s College in Oxford.  As well as being the usual “tortured teenager” (who thought Sylvia Plath was the only one could understand her), I read voraciously.  I embraced magical realism (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Salman Rushdie,  Isabelle Allende, Milan Kundera.  The title “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting always resonated with me).   I read the entire works of Dickens in one week.  Now the whole Dickensian London is just one big smushed memory to me – in which the characters move interchangeably.  I love Jacobean Tragedy, I read and re-read the entire works of Shakespeare.   I always loved the Romantics.  Blake was my favourite.  Somehow I ended up with 2 copies of “Songs of Innocence and Experience”.  One has a heart-felt inscription to me, but the signature is illegible and the “gifter” lost in murky waters of my student memory.

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Below are a couple of quotations (from memory so they might not be quite accurate) that bring tears to my eyes.

Sylvia Plath’s Elm

I know the bottom, she said. I know it with my great tap root,

It is what you fear.

I do not fear it, I have been there.

Blake ‘s Garden of Love

I went to the garden of love

And saw what I had never seen.

A chapel was built in the middle

Where I used to play on the green

And the gates of the chapel were shut

And “thou shalt not” written over the door

So I turned to the garden of love

That so many flowers bore.

The garden was filled with graves

And tombstones were flowers should be

And priest in black gown were walking their rounds

And binding with briars my joys and desires.

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