Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Exulting in the Absence of the Load

Looking through Sue’s library for something to read, I come across a collection of Strindberg plays. August Strindberg? Are you kidding me? So I find the play title with the most words matching the title of what I just finished reading (A Midsummer Nights’ Dream) and come up with A Dream Play, but I fast forwarded my eyes over the script, and I’m like I don’t think so.  However, I did enjoy this quick and blithe scene between a glazier and his daughter set in a forest near a castle:


THE DAUGHTER. The castle is growing higher and higher
above the ground. Do you see how much it has grown since
last year ?

THE GLAZIER. [To himself] I have never seen this castle
before have never heard of a castle that grew, but- [To THE
DAUGHTER, with firm conviction] Yes, it has grown two yards,
but that is because they have manured it and if you notice, it
has put out a wing on the sunny side.

THE DAUGHTER. Ought it not to be blooming soon, as we
are already past midsummer?

THE GLAZIER. Don't you see the flower up there?

THE DAUGHTER. Yes, I see! [Claps her hands] Say, fa-
ther, why do flowers grow out of dirt?

THE GLAZIER, [Simply] Because they do not feel at home
in the dirt, and so they make haste to get up into the light
in order to blossom and die.

THE DAUGHTER. Do you know who lives in that castle ?

THE GLAZIER. I have known it, but cannot remember.

THE DAUGHTER. I believe a prisoner is kept there and
he must be waiting for me to set him free.

THE GLAZIER. And what is he to pay for it?

THE DAUGHTER. One does not bargain about one's duty.
Let us go into the castle.

THE GLAZIER. Yes, let us go in.


Earlier last week, in need of some inspiration, I turned to Robert Louis Stevenson and his three-part narrative of emigration from Europe to New York and then to California in 1879 and 1880, concluding with The Silverado Squatters, about life in the Napa Valley a mere 120 YA.

This choice was serendipitous.  Here are a few jewels that I noted: 

None can care for literature in itself who do not take a special pleasure in the sound of names; and there is no part of the world where nomenclature is so rich, poetical, humorous, and picturesque as the United States of America. All times, races, and languages have brought their contribution.
For art is, first of all and last of all, a trade. The love of words and not a desire to publish new discoveries, the love of form and not a novel reading of historical events, mark the vocation of the writer and the painter.
…though the coming of the day is still the most inspiriting, yet day’s departure, also, and the return of night refresh, renew, and quiet us; and in the pastures of the dusk we stand, like cattle, exulting in the absence of the load.


Coincidentally, the emigrants that Stevenson wrote about on the train from New York to points west were the same European settlers that Willa Cather fictionalized 50 years later in her Nebraska novels and stories.  And so affected was Stevenson—soon to be the celebrated author of Kidnapped and Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—by the same landscape that Cather would later make iconic, he devotes a chapter in his book to “Nebraska.”

But back to my initial search, I decided to go counterintuitive and make my next read Shakespeare's The Winter’s Tale.

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