I remember the first time I connected with words on a page, I mean consciously connected with words on a page, it was the song, “God Bless the Child that’s got its Own” written in a Sesame Street magazine when I was seven, I believe. For some reason the words touched me in way that I am still unsure of. I did not know the melody but the words rang true for me. I heard that song this past Saturday on The Prairie Home Companion and instantly remembered reading the words as a child and connecting with them. I have always connected with words. My mother believes that my love of books stems from the fact that she craved books while she was pregnant with me, like moms-to-be often crave for food.
Reading for some time became a ritual for me; Of course I found a few books that I connected with: Autobiography of Malcolm X, Middlesex, The Namesake but still the majority were okay for the moment. The thrill was gone, which often happens in rituals.
Redemption came- my soul has awakened, I could shout from the mountaintops and it involves, again, words. I am no longer a seven year old, who hasn’t lived and questioned the meaning of life. I have pondered on things and believed these ideas to be personal and intimate and then I come across authors who have lived centuries ago, who I ignored, assuming I had no connection to them and was surprised at one of the deepest connections I have ever experienced. I think that is when the love is the sweetest: when it is unexpected, unplanned. I came across a man named Whitman who is rocking my world right now and I wish I could just sit at his feet, if only for a day and have him read to me. Oh, how I wish I were a fly on the wall, as he wrote or better yet the paper.
I read this tonight:
Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand
Whoever you are holding me now in hand,
Without one thing all will be useless,
I give you fair warning before you attempt me further,
I am not what you supposed, but far different.
Who is he that would become my follower?
Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections?
The way is suspicious, the result uncertain, perhaps destructive,
You would have to give up all else, I alone would expect to be your sole and exclusive standard,
Your novitiate would even then be long and exhausting,
The whole past theory of your life and all conformity to the lives around you would have to be abandon’d,
Therefore release me now before troubling yourself any further, let go your hand from my shoulders,
Put me down and depart on your way.
Or else by stealth in some wood for trial,
Or back of a rock in the open air,
(For in any roof’d room of a house I emerge not, nor in company,
–271-And in libraries I lie as one dumb, a gawk, or unborn, or dead,)
But just possibly with you on a high hill, first watching lest any person for miles around approach unawares,
Or possibly with you sailing at sea, or on the beach of the sea or some quiet island,
Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you,
With the comrade’s long-dwelling kiss or the new husband’s kiss,
For I am the new husband and I am the comrade.
Or if you will, thrusting me beneath your clothing,
Where I may feel the throbs of your heart or rest upon your hip,
Carry me when you go forth over land or sea;
For thus merely touching you is enough, is best,
And thus touching you would I silently sleep and be carried eternally.
But these leaves conning you con at peril,
For these leaves and me you will not understand,
They will elude you at first and still more afterward, I will certainly elude you,
Even while you should think you had unquestionably caught me, behold!
Already you see I have escaped from you.
For it is not for what I have put into it that I have written this book,
Nor is it by reading it you will acquire it,
Nor do those know me best who admire me and vauntingly praise me,
Nor will the candidates for my love (unless at most a very few) prove victorious,
Nor will my poems do good only, they will do just as much evil, perhaps more,
For all is useless without that which you may guess at many times and not hit, that which I hinted at;
Therefore release me and depart on your way.