Friday, December 25, 2009

Old Friends

"The first time I read an excellent work, it is to me just as if I gained a new friend;
and when I read over a book I have perused before, it resembles the meeting of an old one." -Sir James Goldsmith

A few years ago, I proctored a New York State English exam that incorporated the text of Richard Wilbur's The Reader in one of the questions.

In this poem, Wilbur describes the experiences of a young woman who is "going back, these days, to the great stories That charmed her younger mind"

She sees their first and final selves at once,
As a god might to whom all time is now...
But the true wonder of it is that she,
For all that she may know of consequences,
Still turns enchanted to the next bright page
Like some Natasha in the ballroom door—
Caught in the flow of things wherever bound,
The blind delight of being, ready still
To enter life on life and see them through.

During this holiday season, enjoy your new books, but also take the time to revisit some old favorites. Read them with fresh eyes, share them with others. While searching for meaning, you are searching for self.

"A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age,
as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight." -Robertson Davies

"I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves." -E. M. Forster

"What's a book? Everything or nothing. The eye that sees it all." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Reading Giovanni Battista Niccolini, National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC)" by takomabibelot

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