The Inklings

While on vacation in England last month, we spent some time in Oxford.

The main attraction (for me) was Bodleian Libraries’ current exhibit:  Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth.

It’s a breathtaking exhibit where Tolkien enthusiasts can view the first manuscript of The Hobbit, hand-drawn maps of Mordor, letters of correspondence from C.S. Lewis, family photos, favorite pipes, and the rocking chair in which he sat when the sentence, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit,” suddenly came into his mind.

The exhibit will be coming to New York in January (see the link on the blogroll to the right)!  I plan to go again.

After we left the exhibit — and strolled around a bit — we ended up at The Eagle and Child.  This is the small pub that J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams (and friends) would regularly meet over a pint (or two) to discuss poetry, politics and ideas for their stories.  

I sat at the bar with my husband and son, drinking a pint (of Coca-Cola), overwhelmed with the fact that I was sitting in the very place where these great literary minds created The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and the world of Narnia.

Here is where the The Lord of the Rings was read aloud by Tolkien himself.  C.S. Lewis, a positive force in his life, had encouraged him to finish the tale.  Although Tolkien believed Williams was not enthused with his work during their meetings, five years later, Williams asked to borrow the manuscript.  He read it in its entirety and conveyed to Tolkien that he experienced a sense of freedom — and a connection with freedom — while he read it.  He may have been slow with his support, but…better late than never.

I’m now reading The Inklings by Humphrey Carpenter, which casts light on the lives of these three writers and the dynamics of their personalities.

Writing is a solitary practice, but with support and encouragement from friends, great art is realized.  Great literature also has a ripple effect in that it inspires others to see the world differently and allows our imaginations to be set free.

I, for one, am thankful.

Knowing what makes you happy

You must be the judge of your own happiness. – Jane Austen

I need to remind myself of this fact every so often.

When I experience the pleasure of simply staying home, by myself, I find that I am my best creative self.

I’m not surprised, however, when I’m crafting a poem, journaling, or reading, to hear the world whisper into my solitude saying, “Come outside and play with others.”  And I must admit there are a couple of options today:  the Mets game or meeting a friend for a hike.  But the simple pleasure of sitting in my little yard just journaling (and listening) are more appealing.

I know what makes me happy. blog happiness

Knowing what makes you happy is key in finding a sense of peace and moving forward.

To sit under a cloudless sky, happily in solitude, interrupted only by the occasional Blue Jay or Cardinal may seem boring to most, but it allows my mind to creatively wander.  I can actually hear myself think — and the voice I hear sounds calm and wise and happy or better yet…content.

We all deal with that constant nag of being productive, but it is sometimes just that…a nag.  The nag’s voice is not so sweet, and frankly, it’s annoying. So, I’m ignoring him today.

Hope you all find some creative solitude this week…

let your mind wander…

and find your happiness.

Dappled Light and Poetry

There is something so beautiful about dappled light.

My hike today included a long path with such light.  It lay before me, like a regal carpet with a welcoming invitation.  “Become dappled as well,” it seemed to say.

And so I did.

I walk steadily along, with a gentle breeze, tall trees on either side; light piercing through numerous spaces in the canopy of branches above. dappled

I brought a poetry book (this has become a new habit). Poetry, I thought, might be considered dappled words and befitting to read in such light.

I opened to the first poem, a well-known poem, a favorite.

Renascence, from The Selected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay:

 

 

*****

The world stands out on either side

No wider than the heart is wide

Above the world is stretched the sky, –

No higher than the soul is high.

The heart can push the sea and land

Farther away on either hand;

The soul can split the sky in two, 

And let the face of God shine through. 

Excerpt from Renascence, Edna St. Vincent Millay

sun

Wishing you all a peaceful weekend full of long paths,

tall trees,

and dappled light.

 

Writing, Reading, and Listening

It was a long winter.  For everyone.

But today — as I was hiking under a clear blue sky — I felt the weight of winter (finally) lifting.

Oh, the joy!

Nature has the incredible power to change our mood and also open doors of inspiration that allow words to flow easily and naturally.  She also helps us to notice beauty (if we listen).

During my hike, halfway up the hill, I sat down on a bench and took out my paperback copy of The Selected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay to a most appropriate page:

***

I will be the gladdest thing

   Under the sun!

I will touch a hundred flowers

   And not pick one.

 

I will look at cliffs and clouds

   With quiet eyes,

Watch the wind bow down the grass,

   And the grass rise.

 

And when lights begin to show

   Up from the town,

I will mark which must be mine,

And then start down.

— Afternoon on a Hill, Edna St. Vincent Millay

I’m hoping that the coming (warmer) months will bring more days “under the sun” and will fulfill us all in such a way that the simple touch of a flower will bring us joy, gladness, and inspiration.

To be outdoors — experiencing nature in her full glory — just feels “right,” doesn’t it?

Going forward, I will be spending less time on the computer and more time just “listening.”  

I will not miss my computer.

I don’t think anyone on their deathbed has every uttered, “Oh, how I wish I’d spent more time on my laptop.”

So, enjoy the weekend,

breathe some fresh air,

and spend an afternoon, outdoors,

perhaps on a hill,

and listen.