And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.
Last year I visited two of Wordsworth’s homes: Dove Cottage, where he spent the first few years of his marriage, and Rydal Mount, where he lived for most of his adult life. I had looked forward to the visits, but I did not know they would move me as they did. As I walked the terraces of the gardens at Rydal Mount, the tears flowed. I thought of Wordsworth walking those same terraces, saying out loud the words and phrases he had written, shaping them into the verses printed in my Norton Anthology of Poetry. I was reminded again of what some of those words have meant to me, the difference they have made. His words are an invisible thread, connecting us through time. Standing in that garden, it felt like past and present collapsed into one moment filled with the essence of shared experience.
In last week’s post I spoke about the power and beauty of community. It struck me later that community and relationship extend beyond the people we know; the circle is wider than that. It stretches further than the many connections we have through social media, Skype and email. We are part of communities that transcend time and space. I remember reading C.S Lewis for the first time, and feeling overwhelmed. His words gave expression to so much that was locked in my heart. It was like I’d been looking through a telescope and someone had come and adjusted the focus. His thoughts brought a sense of clarity and coherence to my fragmented heart. Words written with love and skill have changed my mind, shifted my thinking, and brought healing and promise. When I lose heart, it is often the lines of a poem or the words of a beautifully written novel that lift me and restore hope. The voices of writers long dead speak into my life here and now, and I am made mindful of the fact that I am not alone. I am held and steadied by the weight of all those words.