Carol Ann Duffy, A L Kennedy and Virginia Woolf: The Privacy of Words.
A long time agao, indeed so long ago, it feels like once upon a time, I read Virginia Woolf's The Waves and even though I felt it slipped away from me, and perhaps I missed whatever 'it' was trying to represent, I remember finding Woolf's Rhoda utterly real despite the disembodiment of the narrative as an ironic 'whole'. Like her earlier colleague Clarissa Dalloway, Rhoda's profound and disturbing sensitivity to the harsh realities of life, culminate in a telling moment when she finds hereslf unable to carry out the simplest of actions:
'There is a puddle,' said Rhoda, 'and I cannot cross it....I am sick of prettiness; I am sick of privacy.'
Aside from the brilliant encapsulation of mental distress and impasse, Woolf's Rhoda's declaration that she is 'sick of privacy' resonates deeply with me and I am sure, with all of us as we try to steer a path through our own experience of our reflective experience. if we are resilient and resourcefully 'lucky'
we may find some welcome relief outside the privacy and lonelines of our heads and this luck may take the form of shared language, the tenderness of being heard.
In A. L. Kennedy's elegaic story, 'Edinburgh', the male protagonist
reflects upon the magical gift of his lover's ritual of book sharing:
'The same words that were in her mind, now in yours, still warm.'
The italicisation of the words conjures the revelation of such a sharing as an energy received and given again and again. The prison house of privacy liberated into human, tender contact.
In Carol Ann Duffy's collection of Love Poems, a new uncollected poem 'Twin' shifts from a slightly cynical. mistrusting tone where the soul twin is kept at a distance from the previously hurt poet, until the last half of the final stanza when the 'twin' returns again, Persephone like, to share, nay, entwine, the words the twin self both hears and finds to say.
'Your synonymous breath.'
I love the way I can hear Demeter, Ann Hathaway and even some of Rapture in this poem. It seems about second chances, the revelation of forgiveness.
' ...when I look over, your profile does it to me again. Everytime.'