Remembering Myself: Past Thoughts on Writing and Poetry - Part 2
In Search of... Part 2
I sit here typing this paper, searching for something of worth to contribute, and I cannot help but pull away. Though I have written poetry, I do not consider myself to be a poet in the sense that Leopardi, Rilke, and Szymborska are poets. For me, writing has been something that I was just able to do, not something that I practiced and was inspired to do by the works which have influenced so many others. In fact, other than required texts given throughout my school years, I never did much leisurely reading of novels or poetry. Consequently, I always felt as though my thoughts and feelings had a place of their own within my own writings. There was something personal about them which allowed me to endure my own solitude and find a strange sense of comfort in the fact that these insights were mine.
Unlike many others, I was never the one to quote someone else. What others had discovered through books, I had found equally clear answers through my own experiences and observations. Perhaps that is why I value papers such as this which do not require the critical research of others to give credibility to my thoughts. For a long time, I tried to avoid reading the works of others out of fear. Maybe fear is a better word to describe the feeling of realizing that my thoughts are no longer my own. I cannot truly describe the feeling of inadequacy which comes from knowing that my thoughts, or rather the thoughts I once claimed as my own, are nothing more than words previously written in the pages of an already published, yet unread volume. Upon discovering these words, I see myself reflected in them.
One would think it a blessing to find out that one is not alone, but after living in the solitude and having it become all that one has, company can be a curse. Maybe the solitary mind finds relief in the delusion of believing that its condition in some way makes it different... special. The poet does not want to let that feeling fade away and dreads being seen as transparent by others presuming to know what he feels they can never truly understand. Yet, it is the longing to be understood and to relate the seemingly incomprehensible that compels the poet to write. It is the thing that consumes the spirit and kills it while at the same time manages to give it a reason to strive. With this thought, it may be concluded that a poet only truly dies when there is nothing left worth saying. Where does that leave me?
In another unavoidable quotation, Szymborska, in her Nobel lecture giving reference to the claim by Ecclesiastes that “there’s nothing new under the sun,” says, “But you yourself were born new under the sun. And the poem you created is also new under the sun, since no one wrote it down before you. And all your readers are also new under the sun, since those who lived before you couldn’t read your poem. And that cypress under which you’re sitting hasn’t been growing since the dawn of time. It came into being by way of another cypress similar to yours, but not exactly the same.” So maybe some ideas are said throughout history, revised or slightly altered because within them there is some truth worth remembering and passing on. As with everything else, those ideas are subject to interpretation. Throughout the ages the ideas may become more clear and exact to the meaning of everything. This may be the desired effect by some force I cannot comprehend. I don’t know, but I want to know, and that is the thing that motivates me in the end. I don’t presume to see where the search for understanding will end, but I can hope it will not be in vain.
In writing this paper, I do not believe that it will have much importance. These are only my thoughts - just what I am feeling at this time. For me, the importance comes in knowing that I did write this. Whether or not my words will find meaning in the spirit of someone else is not known to me. The only thought is where to go from here. Whether I like it or not, I’m moving on with borrowed thoughts. By reading and acknowledging the writers I’ve discussed, anything I say from now on having to do with the same train of thought will in some way be attributed to their influence, even if they were not the original source of my inspiration. People will say, “You’ve read Rilke,” or “So, you must like Szymborska?” I can only truthfully respond, “Yes.”
I never wanted to sound like someone else, but that seems unavoidable. It is both a curse and blessing. It could be that it is the time to add my own truth to the one already existing. Someone I know called it “the unrepeatable combination - a meeting of two universes.” I’ll listen to and quote that insight as a welcome contradiction to my often stubborn nature. My only regret in having said all that I truly have to say is that this paper falls short in the suggested word count. For that, I sincerely apologize. Perhaps a more traditional analysis would have succeeded in meeting the criteria. Though shorter than expected, I can only hope that what was said offers some meaning in the reader’s mind. If not, I will still claim the result as my own.
Author's Final Reflections
Many of these thoughts still ring true to me. In other areas, however, I definitely have changed my views. I no longer feel as much shame when it comes to quoting others, for instance, as long as it's applicable and in moderation. Looking back on this paper, I feel as though I have reconnected with myself in many ways. I still don't consider myself to be a great writer, though, and there was a time when I thought that I was done with writing in general. Maybe there is a larger purpose for returning to it. I guess I'm still searching for that purpose.