I still haven’t forgiven Ernest for not leaving a note. I’ve softened a bit regarding it, however. Some of the outer layers of offense have sloughed off over the years. But the hard little seed of disquietude at the center of negligence still scratches and irritates. No note! Even the ultimate social and journalistic rebel, Hunter Thompson, the Gonzo King, left a note! If Hunter would do something so conformational… Never mind. I just had a notion Ernest would be more attentive to details of that sort. His medical history of depression and paranoia and his last days on record will have to suffice.
Sylvia didn’t leave a note either. But she was forgiven for that even prior to her birth, for she arrived on Earth painfully delicate and damageable, attractively soft-hearted, yet masterfully equipped at the very start of her journey to carry out her fateful legacy. And all her poems are her explanation, the explanation. She is Poetry’s darling, broken-winged black rook , in my book, and can do no wrong.
Sylvia’s friend Anne didn’t leave a note. She’s a harder-shelled bi-polar one. Her poems bleed deep-woundedness exceptionally, albeit bawdily, but compared to Sylvia’s they seem more organized or controlled and therefore edge closer to mainstream. Her word usage, her description, more tightly weaves the sick thing you either recoil from or recognize in yourself. Whereas Sylvia screams her agonies through unique, infrequently used gems of words splashed deftly throughout a bizarre structure of sentences. Because of Anne’s slimly surer and more worldly-wise grasp, I would have thought her one to have left a note. And so I am disappointed and much less forgiving of her than Sylvia.
Quietly now, reverence for one of the most beloved writers of all time, Virginia Woolf. She left a note, bless her distraught heart. But had she overlooked that element of respectful departing, surely the ripple it might have caused would have been so soft and died down so quickly. As with Sylvia, she was never not forgiven. Regardless, out of as much love and consideration as she could muster in her state, she addressed her husband for the last time, “Dearest, I feel certain I am going mad again….And I shan’t recover this time…..I am doing what seems the best thing to do….I can’t fight any longer….Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer….I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been. V.” Be still my heart.
Brilliant, young Iris Chang left a note with similar sentiments, ending in, “…I had considered running away, but I will never be able to escape from myself and my thoughts. I am doing this because I am too weak to withstand the years of pain and agony ahead.” Yes. Without “Happy DNA,” it is so difficult. That she was able, for the time she was here, to contribute immense value to the lives of others is a miraculous gift to humanity. Reporter Richard Rongstad puts it well: “Iris Chang lit a flame and passed it to others and we should not allow that flame to be extinguished.”
Not like Welsh author, Dorothy Edwards, please! She left a far more tragic explanation of her departure, “I am killing myself because I have never sincerely loved any human being all my life. I have accepted kindness and friendship, and even love, without gratitude and given nothing in return.” Ouch. May none of us die without experiencing true love and compassion even it it’s that that kills us. May our lives be a rhapsody.
Long fascinated with the connection between brilliance in writing and mental illness, I occasionally flip a few stones looking for more fragments of information on these writers. Today, in doing so, I found this phenomenal site called “Neurotic Poets.” Under the title on the home page two sentences play with words, “Madness takes its toll. Please have exact change.” I love that. It’s one of those now-why-didn’t-I-think-of-that? kinds of things.
Also, in digging around Plath, I uncovered a brilliant person, student, writer, teacher, etc, etc, etc. I think, although it’s as usual compulsively too soon to be certain, that if I could have picked my equipment before coming to earth, I would have chosen most, maybe all, of Zoë Brigley’s attributes. Oh, we have our commonalities. She appears to like red…and my especial favorite color, black…
All photos from Getty Images
Another of Zoë’s blogs: http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/zoebrigley/
A Zoë piece on Plath: http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/zoebrigley/entry/ariel_the_restored/
FAVORITE POETRY LINKS:
http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/ This link is on recommendation from N., my far better half. Start your day with this and you will be the better for it. It’s true, so I rarely do it (fear of success).
“Audio: Virginia Woolf: Writing Life…celebrating the legacy of Virginia Woolf…” 1 hr, 38 min (If you’re registered with The New York Times online and are a fan of Woolf, this is fun. If you’re not registered with nytimes.com you might consider it. It’s free and a great life-line to all things going on in world.): http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/03/12/specials/woolf.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
A short bio (of particular interest is V’s quote in the 5th paragraph on what a severe mental breakdown is like): http://bipolar.about.com/cs/celebs/a/virginiawoolf.htm
ERNEST HEMINGWAY: http://www.ernest.hemingway.com/
HUNTER S. THOMPSON: http://www.gonzo.org/ (I’ve only just begun to cruise this site, so the jury’s still out, but it’s cool enough to introduce here)