Variation on the Word Sleep

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Variation on the Word Sleep

There's a poem I really love by Margaret Atwood called "Variation on the Word Sleep"
The ending is particularly poignant:
"I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary"

The idea of being able to distill such meaning into so few words. A dream.
I like the idea of writing variations on words. Taking a prosaic, everyday, word and using it as a key into something deep and universal.

That's poetry at some level. Something I'm ridiculously horrible at. If I'm good at anything its writing complex historical essays. I wonder if there's a way I could write like that and yet capture some emotion... something deeper. An essay on the Xhosa cattle killing with a subtext of love lost. Sadness and anger.

Sounds like a good idea for a story actually -- a character locked in that academic language able to express his feelings only as a subtext of the historical essays he writes.


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