and so I continue on with my favorite lines from By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. these are from chapters two, three, four and five. there are two words that could describe, although in a shallow way, what reading this book and coming alive with its sentences is like: sadness and remembrance.
But her eyes pierced all the veils that protected my imagination against ruinous knowledge, to bleed me too in this catastrophic pool of birth. Is there no other channel of my deliverance except by her martyrdom?
The stream of our kiss put a waterway around the world, where love like a refugee sailed in the last ship.
Give me a reason for courage or a way to be brave.
My heart is its own destructive. It beats out the poisonous rhythm of the truth.
But the gentle flowers, able to die unceremoniously, remind me of her grief whose tears drown all ghosts, and though I swing in torture from the windiest hill, more angels weep for her whose devastated love runs into all the oceans of the world.
There is no angle the world can assume which the love in my eye cannot make it into a symbol of love.
And there is so much for me, I am suddenly so rich, and I have done nothing to deserve it, to be so overloaded. All after such a desert. All after I had learnt to say, I am nothing, and I deserve nothing.
It has happened, the miracle has arrived, everything begins today, everything you touch is born; the new moon attended by two enormous stars; the sunny day fading with a glow to exhilaration; all the paraphernalia of existence, all my sad companions of these last twenty years, the pots and pans in Mrs Wurtle’s kitchen, ribbons of streets, wilted geraniums, thing children’s legs, all the world solicits me with joy, leaps at me electrically, claiming its birth at last.
What is going to happen? Nothing. For everything has happened. All time is now, and time can do no better. Nothing can ever be more now than now, and before nothing was. There are no minor facts in life, there is only the one tremendous one.
Once I sulked wistfully through dim streets, aching after this unknown, hoping to pass by unnoticed in my drab dress and lopsided shoes with high heels, hoping, thus surreptitiously, to come upon it. But I was afraid, I was timid, and I did not believed, I hoped. I thought it would be like a bird in the hand, not a wild sea that treated me like a flotsam.
Just to lie savoring is enough life. Is enough.
Take away what is supposed to be enviable: the silver brushes with my name, the long gown, the car, the hundred suitors, poise in a restaurant – I am still richer than the greediest heart could conceive, able to pour, my overflowing benevolence over even the tight-mouthed look. Take everything I have, or could have, or anything the world could offer, I am still empress of a new-found land, that neither Columbus nor Cortez could have equaled, even in their instigating dream. Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm, for love is strong as death.
But still the only torture is his absence. The wall is scrawled with writing scratched with a pin: ‘If you ever get out of here take my advice Be Good’.
This cannot, cannot be true, I thought. For too much love, only for too much love. Who is for us if these are so fiercely against? All our wishes were private, we desired no more scope than ourselves. Could we corrupt the young by gazing into each other’s eyes? Would they leave their offices? Would big business suffer?
For though I am crowned and anointed with love and have obtained from life all I asked, what am I as I enter my parents’ house but another prodigal daughter?
And I, who have the world in my pocket, can bring them nothing to comfort their disappointment or reward their optimism, but supplicate again for the fatted calf which they killed so often before and so in vain. Parents’ imaginations build frameworks out of their own hopes and regrets into which children seldom grow, but instead, contrary as trees, lean sideways out of the architecture, blown by a fatal wind their parents never envisaged.
Asking no one’s forgiveness for sins I refuse to recognize, why do I cry then to be returning homeward through a land I love like a lover? From a long way off those faces with their prayers like wounds peer out of the window, stiff with anxiety, but ready to welcome me with love. The sound of their steps pacing before the fireplace voices all the pain of the turning world.
Surely this acceptance of a mediocre role gives human dignity.
The faces, the faded houses, the autumn air, everything is omens of promise to the prodigal. But leaning against the train window, drunk with the hope which anything so unbegun always instills, I remember my past returnings: keep that vision, I pray, pressing my forehead against the panes: the faces are kind; the people have reserve; the birds gather in groups to migrate, forecasting fatal change: remember, when your eyes shrivel aggrievedly because you notice the jealousy of those that stay at home, here is no underlining of an accidental picturesqueness, but a waiting, unself-conscious as the unborn’s, for future history to be performed upon it. Remember that although this initial intoxication disappears, yet these things in that hour moved you to tears, and made of an outward gaze through the dining-car window a plenitude not to be borne.
listening while typing: Patrick Watson – Into Giants