“I sat on in my chamber green,
And lived my life, and thought my thoughts and prayed
My prayers without the vicar; read my books
Without considering whether they were fit
To do me good. Mark, there. We get no good
By being ungenerous even to a book,
And calculating profits – so much help
By so much reading. It is rather when
We gloriously forget ourselves, and plunge
Soul-forward, headlong, into a book’s profound,
Impassioned for its beauty and salt of truth –
‘Tis then we get the right good from a book.”
Elizabeth Barrette Browning.
I nearly went past this little excerpt from Aurora Leigh but then I re-read it and it brought these thoughts to mind –
I felt as though she were making a statement of her independence in the first lines – she lived her life, not the life another imposed on her; her prayers – not with Pastor or Priest applying theirs to her; her books, ones she chose, not the catechism, or the approved list of the church, but in freedom choosing for herself.
I liked her approach to whatever she read – an attitude of generosity, maybe a simple respect for the labor someone has put into their work; and I take her to mean she chooses a peaceful time carved out to soul-fully plunge in and greedily gather all the sweetness offered, seeking bits of truth and beauty, leaving the work of a critic to another. Surely the author would appreciate this respectful approach to their work, be it man or God.
Photo from the Internet