Literary Therapy

The problem with Frodo is that he

1) fails his too-big Quest; his will gives up; he cannot go it alone

2) can’t live afterwards

And that may be why I did too. One of these days there may be some deeper than this thought. Now I content myself with waiflike words because I can, because novels and sentences are rather more powerful and more frightening to make than we sometimes think.

I burnt out on my biggest aspiration; which shouldn’t have been my biggest aspiration, but I fell back into the arms of my true biggest aspiration – God. And the literature exams went…. horribly.

But the day after when I woke up, after feeling dreadfully unemployed for ten minutes, consolation was there. I went back to a very little girl. I read ‘Little Women’. Today I saw a boy move out of his halls of residence carrying a giant teddy. ‘Little Women’ is more than that; I swigged it for consolation, and consolation there is in abundance. And tears, tears; never has a novel moved me so soppily and yet truthfully to tears: the talk of a Comforter pervades the whole spirit of the novel, Amy’s little chapel; Beth waving at the window in the place of their absent mother; controlling anger by looking at God. The pilgrim’s progress: in ‘Little Women’ they are inspired to live on faithfully through fiction, and I’m just another literary generation on, reading God’s fleshed-out word giving hope in the darkest moments of ‘what am I doing here, and will I ever be happy again?’

Getting back to the old favourites, the metaphysical religious poets, though it felt a bit like ascending a ladder at first. And even bewildering T. S. Eliot was kind, introducing George Herbert with some interesting little excerpts, like sugared water on a spoon for a pathetic butterfly, but how appropriate, now:

How fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean

Are thy returns! ev’n as the flowers in spring;

To which, besides their own demean,

The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring.

Grief melts away

Like snow in May,

As if there were no such cold thing.


And now in age I bud again,

After so many deaths I live and write;

I once more smell the dew and rain,

And relish versing: O my onely light,

It cannot be,

That I am he

On whom thy tempests fell all night.

(George Herbert is a soul friend).


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