The Remains of the Day has been recommended to me over and over again. Finally, when I saw it at my favorite used book store, I picked it up and shelved it. Somehow, the book never made it to the top of my reading list, though. Despite my affinity for Downton Abbey and all manner of British period pieces, it seemed too blatantly Anglophilic for me. I don’t enjoy reading just anything written about British people, but I do appreciate that uniquely British pairing of scathing humor with unnatural, almost illogical, stoicism. That’s why I enjoy Evelyn Waugh’s books, for example, or the lovely gem that is William Boyd’s Any Human Heart—one of my favorite reads of the year. In more ways than I had expected, Kazuo Ishiguro’s book was different from my usual fare.
This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge really speaks to me. The prompt challenged bloggers to “share a photo inspired by a poem, verse, song lyric or story.” Photography and poetry go together like beauty and melancholy, like joy and sorrow. Opposites attract and complement one another, each bringing out the best in the other. Appreciation of these seemingly incongruous pairings is one of the biggest reasons I’m a fan of Romantic poetry, and John Keats in particular. His “Ode on Melancholy” is one of my favorite poems. It reminds me that life is full of deep sorrow and unbridled joy, but one cannot exist without the other, and neither one lasts indefinitely. Keats’ lines also suggest that beauty is, perhaps, best appreciated in a sudden fit of melancholy: Read more
“If you look a word up in the dictionary and twenty minutes later you’re still wandering around in the dictionary, you probably have the most basic equipment you need to be a poet. It’s just liking the texture of language. I think there’s another thing, a kind of attitude—an attitude of not ever getting used to being alive, of not ever taking your life for granted.”
via Paris Review – The Art of Poetry No. 83, Billy Collins.