With two English-Lit Major brothers and an aunt who taught English at a local high school, is it any wonder I grew up loving dead poets?
No. No wonder at all.
When I was ten, my oldest brother recited a few lines by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. I felt sympathetic toward the main character in this poem, and I loved the way he expressed himself. The words sunk deep into my girlish heart and I worked for days to memorize them.
"Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.
O, well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad
That he sings in his boat on the bay!
And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!
Break, break, break
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea.
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me."
These words sounded so compellingly romantic! Break, Break, Break led me on to further discovery. The Lady of Shalott. Morte D' Arthur. Ulysses.
On my desk, sitting close like a dear friend, there is a copy of The Poetical and Dramatic Works of Tennyson. It is old, though not as old as Lord Alfred himself, though close. The cover is a rich cobalt blue inscribed with gold, leafy filigree. The paper and vellum inside are no longer white but instead a yellowish-orange.
I open this book carefully, as I have done many times, as I will yet do. Like always, it creaks me a welcome, and I suddenly feel at home.
What books impressed you as a child? Do you love words, and if so, what are some of your favorites?
If you haven't visited Akseli Koskela at An English Teacher's Travelblog, you should. An excellent writer himself, he has a great post today about language.