This Dark Angel, My Muse

24 01 2007

I must believe that, deep in the yellowed hearts of tomes, salvation of a sort does lie. For how else to explain my jealous lust for literature? The eagerness with which I seize upon another text, wide-eyed and frantic with the desire to possess it, as though mere physical possession amounted to the immediate acquisition of knowledge. I line my walls with books that gaze down, frown down, upon me; spines like rows of unlit candles in an old-world tomb. Monuments to pagan gods, they squat on hallowed haunches, judging me in the darkness as I lie sweating in my bed. This room, Muse, is my temple and I its only priest. Long have I burned the midnight candle, seeking truth and wisdom from amongst the sullen shadows. Long have I flipped in vain through reticent tomes, their tight-lipped authors hiding kernals of knowledge in mountains of ancient prose: words like crooked footprints of some small bird, twisting and jagged on every soiled page. Long have I sought the wisdom of the ancients, long have I marvelled at my own prowess.

There is no space within my own cramped grave to carry all these precious works. There is no time within my own brief life to cast my eyes on every word. There is no room within my own small mind to learn the secrets of every book. My time on earth is filled with the pursuit of that which I cannot obtain. Driven, like a desperate moth, towards the light that must devour me; desperate as a driven leaf that makes its way towards the ground.

And my salvation? That I may, in my own small part, bequeath my words for those to come. That I may add my little name to books that others yet may read. “Since no man knows of aught he leaves, what is’t to leave betimes?¹” O prince who never lived! Bard who never died! Lend me your words to fit my life! Give me your prose, whom you never knew! How could I employ my own words to describe myself? How may my own life be bound by sentiments that are my own? The need for a biographer has never been so great as now. Our generation comes and goes and epitaphs are not enough. A grave be graced with more than words: give us our monuments in text! Headstones, moss-grown, lie in ruins; shattered tombs lie in decay. Books, when broken, are complete; tomes rot but the words remain.

¹ Hamlet, V.2

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One response

26 01 2007
Conrad

“I don’t want to become immortal through my work. I want to become immortal through not dying…”

— Woody Allen.

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