October 27, 2010

the brash initial sentence.

I want to share with all of you a poem by Gregory Fraser.

Found in his 2009 collection Answering the Ruins, it's a piece that speaks of our egos, of our self-inflicted expectations, of our significance and our insignificance and the hazy space between the two.

Even for those of you who aren't so into poetry, I promise you'll find something worth discovering in this one:
Essay On Criticism

It's hard not to think of yourself sometimes
as a passing mention in the dense
forgettable middle of a Russian novel,

as the brief description of a minor
character's gesture, the offhand reference
to a body of water, smell of rye bread.

The plot would falter without you,
the grand style momentarily flag,
but you could just as easily be scratched.

Still, you can't help seeing yourself
as the brash initial sentence, those ambiguous
final lines, or dialogue choked through sobs.

Perhaps it's not so awful to settle in
to a small remark on a peddler's
mule-drawn voz, glint off a samovar.

Then again, there's always the chance
of a critic (diligent, not unbeautiful)
prepared to make more of you

than any could imagine. In such a case--
you Aside, Casual Comment--propose 
on the instant, latch on till The End.
So, so true to life, right?

I wanted to share this piece because it's so poignant, so on point in the way that it captures our shared struggle to be remarkable.

It's our universal fear, isn't it? That we are a blip on the radar, a pause between words, a passing mention. Because Fraser is right: we all want to be that brash initial sentence, that dialogue choked through sobs. We want to be important, valuable, influential. Mostly, we want to be necessary.

And what are we really searching for? That critic, that person, that soul who believes we are all of those things--if not in the world's eyes, then, at the very least, in theirs.

(Photo: federica micozzi)


Hannah said... [Reply to comment]

totally made my morning. Lovely friend.

I used to tell my mom I want an extraordinary life, not an ordinary one.

Take me to your Leena said... [Reply to comment]

thank you for this. so true and so beautifully written.

Alessia said... [Reply to comment]

thanks for sharing! such beautiful words.

Your blog is charming

s a m said... [Reply to comment]

I don't know what I love more, the poem - or your commentary on it: "the struggle to be remarkable."

Leah said... [Reply to comment]

So so true. I know it's a great fear of mine-I want an extraordinary life. I want to be remembered for being amazing at something-even if that's being an amazing friend, daughter, sister or mother. : )