For this past week I have been thinking of this line by 20 Prospect “There is something unholy about being able to cross the world in a day,” which succinctly summed up the experience of traveling to the other side of the world and dealing with the consequences, as he so poetically yet accurately described jet lag:
Sitting there in the dark… my heart whistled like an empty shell, waiting for my soul to catch up to my body.
While I re-adjust back to the time zone and life back here, and more importantly in the context of this blog, to my role as a virtual resident of the blogosphere, a cog in this massive social network, here is a short post that has nothing to do with my trip…
Many years ago when I was trapped in the house with a strong-willed, persistent toddler that refused to sleep and to be happy and wanted nothing else but me and my unwaivering attention, I thought about running away. Of course I did not. An old friend from college saved me by asking me to select, translate and edit a book of classic English poems, dedicated to the subject of love. The objective is to have the book published before Valentine’s Day. It is a shame that the book is now out of print because otherwise I could send it to you all in lieu of Valentine’s Day cards: at $99NTD a pop, approximately $3 USD, the book is cheaper than most of the Hallmark cards.
It was an interesting experience working on a collection of love poems, including “How Do I Love Thee” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, naturally, when I was decidedly not in any mood for love. In fact, my heart was filled with resentment and guilt, anxiety and angst, panic for a life gone wrong, for the roads not taken, for the dreams unfulfilled. It felt surreal when I was writing the afterword: cynicism was out since the filter through which to appreciate a love poem has to be drastically anti-cynicism; I took on the role of an old woman, the future me who was at peace finally, encouraging the married young women to not lose heart, to force themselves to remember what it was like before all this.
Love. I remember.
(Looking back, I now winced at the cheesy English name I picked for the book. My sincere apology)
I do want to share with you my favorite poem from the selection. Taxi by Amy Lowell.
Ms. Lowell has another poem that is just as brilliant and packs a powerful wallop of visual punch right to the gut. Here it is:
You hate me and I hate you
And we are so polite, we two!
But whenever I see you, I burst apart
And scatter the sky with my blazing heart.
It spits and sparkles in the stars and balls,
Buds into roses – and flares, and falls.
Scarlet buttons, and pale green disks,
Silver spirals and asterisks,
Shoot and tremble in a mist
Peppered with mauve and amethyst.
I shine in the windows and light up the trees,
And all because I hate you, if you please.
And when you meet me, you rend asunder
And go up in a flaming wonder
Of saffron cubes, and crimson moons,
And wheels all amaranths and maroons.
Golden lozenges and spades
Arrows of malachites and jades,
Patens of copper, azure sheaves.
As you mount, you flash in the glossy leaves.
Such fireworks as we make, we two!
Because you hate me and I hate you.