A definition of what it means to be working

Dear Reader,

It is Lent, and time to resurrect this blog from the ashes; to harness the capabilities of Twitter and WordPress. I must apologise for my absence–indeed, I realise I’ve been gone for a long time. Long flights, long nights, and long and lonely walks to Grantchester…treading the ground of Woolf, Brooke, and Forster, all the while hearing the cool lapse of hours pass as the centuries blend and blur. Du Lieber Gott! And I wonder in awe and ecstasy at the beauty of this place, where history erupts in a clanging of church bells. How many scholars have come here, to walk in the footsteps of Spencer and Wittgenstein? And did they find their way home again?

Oh to dissolve in the endless symmetry of King’s College Chapel; to melt in the candlelit arias of Clare; to drown in midnight organ music while the starlight guides me over the Cam. How difficult it is to read poetry when poetry is always before me, when every college, every neighbouring town bears the stamp of some long-forgotten writer!

Now for my excuses. I suppose you wonder why I haven’t written. Well, I suppose I’ve been soaking it in, mulling-it-over, as it were. Gathering. Gathering for what, you ask. I couldn’t tell you. A novel, a poem, a blog post. A tale for my grandchildren. Trying to carve out the essence of life with words, each failure bringing me closer to the peripheries of language and my own perspective. What is a place like Cambridge besides a point of reference? A sequence of actions stored within a mental framework, a habit? An absence or a presence? I cannot tell, for this place has shaped me beyond words. It cannot be bound by language.

I have been working. Or rather, my soul has. I have been filling it, carefully, with lemon water, daffodils, and silence. Most days, I work at the cafe. First, I order a large, single-shot cappuccino with chocolate on top at student discount. Next, I locate a table–preferably, near the stained glass. Then, I watch. If the work is spontaneous, I ask the waiter for pen and paper. I write.

Sometimes my work requires that I go to the art gallery. There, where I sit before a work of art, I remake myself. I study the half-smiles and gestures of long-dead men and women, kneeling before the altarpiece of an unfinished da Vinci. I have the sudden urge to walk into a painting; to picnic in the gardens of nineteenth-century Paris. I imagine C. S. Lewis standing next to me, seeing this grove of trees as a Wood-between-worlds. This is the power of art, its capacity to transport one to new places, to shift one’s perspective.

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In short, work is going swimmingly. Sometimes not writing is an integral part of the writing process.

Hoping you’re well,

Melancholic Poet

 

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