One of the requests on BM’s 2nd birthday was for me to share the books I want to keep with me for life and why. Timberbookshelves, congratulations, you made me think. No, seriously, in all honesty, I pondered that question for ages. I mean, as a voracious reader, I can easily come up with at least ten titles at any given time that I really love. But books I will keep for life? I had to think about it and when I did think about it, I realized that there are pieces of literature I will keep beside me forever but not, perhaps, books. Does that seem strange to you?
The first one is a poem by Fannie Heaslip Lea:
“The Dead Faith
She made a little shadow-hidden grave,
The day Faith died;
Therein she laid it, heard the clod’s sick fall,
And smiled aside-
“If less I ask,” tear blind she mocked, “I may be less denied.”
She set a rose to blossom in her hair,
The day Faith died-
“Now glad,” she said, “And free at last, I go, and life is wide.”
But through the long nights she stared into the dark, And knew she lied.
-Fannie Heaslip Lea”
Every time I read this piece, I come away with something new. It speaks to me on so many different levels and about so many different things. The sad thing is, this is the only poem by the poet that I have been able to find.
The second one is also a poem but this time it is by John Donne:
Holy Sonnet 14
Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
I came across this poem when I was watching Smallville (hey, who knew Smallville could be so cultured?) and I looked it up and bam! That was all it took. Again, I am not quite sure how to properly explain what this poem or how this poem speaks to me. It just hits me in all the right places.
The third one is a quote by David Henry Thoreau:
“As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.”
This quote appeared on the blog of this fifteen year old I used to talk to when I was 17. She died in a car accident in her sixteenth year and I was left deliberating this quote for quite a while. It seemed ironic or perhaps a melancholy foreshadowing of my friend’s short life. So now, I remember it so it reminds me of life and its inevitable finiteness.
The fourth is also a quote. This one is by Anais Nin:
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
I shouldn’t have to explain this one to you but just in case, when we moved from Fiji to Canada, my personality underwent a 180 degree change. I was very extroverted there but coming here made me gather into myself and become reallly introverted. This quote reminds me that I lose out a lot by being so reserved.
There are books, of course, that will remain with me as long as I am alive.
- The Holy Quran. This should be self-explanatory.
- The History of Love – Nicole Krauss. The book is beautiful. You only need to read it to find out why I love it so much.
- I Heard the Owl Call My Name – Margaret Craven. It may be because I read this in my formative years but I found it so beautiful in both its construction and the message in it.
- The poetry of Pablo Neruda. It’s beautiful.
- Shoot – George Bowering. It’s not very well known but it is one of the most beautiful novels I have read.
I’m sure there are plenty more but these ones will give you an idea, I hope, of the kind of literature I keep close to me.