Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Friday, March 8, 2013

Dorothy Wordsworth

Saturday [May 17th, 1800]. Incessant rain from morning till night. T. Ashburner brought us coals. Worked hard & Read Midsummer night’s dream, Ballads—sauntered a little in the garden. The Skobby sate quietly in its nest rocked by the winds & beaten by the rain.

Dorothy Wordsworth, famous poet William Wordsworth’s sister, kept a journal. I much prefer her journal to her brother’s poetry. Sometimes she recounts an event that William later made a poem about; sometimes William borrows from his sister’s journal in his poems. Dorothy’s journal is a recording of the day to day, the changing of the seasons, jam made and shoes mended, the post waited for, walks to the lake. Simple observation and sincere sentiment sometimes reveal beautiful lyricism. It makes me think of something I read in The Knitting Sutra a few days ago: “Is it possible that female spirituality through the ages may have been concealed in the minutiae of domestic life rather than expressed in the grandiosity and pomposity of churches and sermons?”

Sometimes, especially in the spring, I think I’d like to keep a journal like Dorothy’s. “Eggs for breakfast. Frost in the grass. Read Austen, taking notes to lead class discussion. Worked 8 hours at bookstore. Knitted leg warmers, pretty yarn in subtle gold & rose. Had to take out two rows of stitches.”

For this I week I would write: “Bulbs sprouting in garden—narrow-leafed daffodils, full-lipped tulips with their rosy edges. Along the Paradise Creek path, the first flowers of the season: yellow crocuses amidst the dead grass & leafless bushes & dried berries. Makes me think of Easter, & rebirth, & hope.”

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