Saturday, November 17, 2007


"Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius."
Sir Edward Gibbon

You heard the man you love

You heard the man you love
talking to himself in the next room.
He didn't know you were listening.
You put your ear against the wall
but you couldn't catch the words,
only a kind of rumbling.
Was he angry? Was he swearing?
Or was it some kind of commentary
like a long obscure footnote on a page of poetry?
Or was he trying to find something he'd lost,
such as the car keys?
Then suddenly he began to sing.
You were startled
because this was a new thing,
but you didn't open the door, you didn't go in,
and he kept on singing, in his deep voice, off-key,
a purple-green monotone, dense and heathery.
He wasn't singing for you, or about you.
He had some other source of joy,
nothing to do with you at all—
he was an unknown man, singing in his own room, alone.
Why did you feel so hurt then, and so curious,
and also happy,
and also set free?

——Margaret Atwood

I was compelled to post this poem for its rarity in delicately capturing the essence of what keeps love alive, beings sufficient unto themselves able to love each other for having the same such admirable capacities the day they met and allowing them all the room they need miles on down the road.

Consider love. Presupposing free will in others is the requisite for falling in love. It is the existence of a discriminating awareness on the other end that is the source of any possible thrill, attraction, and respect.
——Daniel Rirdan, Ecovillage proposer (1966 - )


leslie said...

What a wonderful poem! Thank you for posting it.
Those moments that the poetry describes are very exciting to experience.

leslie said...

Is that a Da Vinci? Great staircase.

gregra&gar said...

I was unable to find the painter's name, Leslie. I will surely credit it if anyone can enlighten me.

As for the poem, I get a distinctly euphoric surge when reading the last few lines showing her discovery of the infinite freedom of loving someone useful to themselves.

Minx said...

The freedom to be yourself is what keeps love alive. Without it we are just part of a someone else's ideal.

Anonymous said...

i just read an atwood poem at another blog site and found it to be, well, lacking !!

but this one ??? ahhh .... gorgeous! i love that he is what he is - singing for himself just for the sheer beauty of being able. no canary in a cage here ..... and she loving him even more because of it.

yes, this is love: to be who we have always meant to be: loving ourselves .... the rest? gravy ...

(can i have that goddess toad now?)


Lilwave said...

I love the poem...
The artwork reminds me very much of the work by Gerrit Dou 1613-1675. I love his work. I saw it with my own eyes when I went to a museum in Washington. The way he captured light was magical. Books and internet can't touch the beauty of the paintings itself. One of my favorites he painted was called, "The Hermit".

gregra&gar said...

Minxy, exactly — talk about cramps, cramming oneself into another's mold anywhere is injurious to growth, but in ones own home, living death if one persists.

Red, if you got de gravy, you don't need no stinkin' toad or goddesshood.
Hugs and hash browns, Kisses and chicken fried steak, and a coconut tree built for two, what more could a Tejas gal need.

Lil wave, still looking for the painter, but I researched Dou via google and couldn't find the Hermit either. Ah well.

The poem, upon responding to you, seems also to reflect the idea that our greatest gifts aren't our intended presents given so much as our coincidental presence taken as a gift by another who loves us, unbeknownst to us.

Lilwave said...

Well...I should have clued in sooner. It is actually Rembrandt and the name of the painting is called, "A Scholar in a Lofty Room". Dou was a painter during Rembrandts time so I'm not surprised they are similar in style.

Lilwave said...

The poem, upon responding to you, seems also to reflect the idea that our greatest gifts aren't our intended presents given so much as our coincidental presence taken as a gift by another who loves us, unbeknownst to us.

I often feel like the woman listening as I read your blogs. I sometimes respond but choose to simply observe.

gregra&gar said...

The startling use of light in the period was quite reflective of the renaissance enlightening the dark ages some what. Their are still inquisitions, witch trials and Bush's self-righteous genocide of a hapless people that have since occurred, but that's a matter of our great white way leading to the dark of the dungeons and catacombs from which all heresies arise.

And, thanks for listening through the wall religion seems to be for us. I love you too, dear daughter.