Void in Art
Two blogs to which I have subscribed have taken up the theme “who am I?” and answers are given in poems in both:
My answer to such question is less poetic. But it is short.
I am nothing and no one
I am The Girls’ amanuensis
I am not a student anymore. I am not a daughter anymore. I am not a singer anymore. I am not much of a reader anymore. I am not a friend anymore. I am certainly no parent , no wife, no lover. I have no job. I have not much of a hobby. I am rather useless.
And this attempt to define myself brings me to the issue of solitude, loneliness.
In French, there is one word to say all shades of the word: solitude. In English, there is solitude, loneliness aloneness, lonesomeness; you may be alone, lonely, lonesome. In French, you are seul.
One may find solitude alluring. I have relished solitude years ago. To appreciate it, one must know noise, crowd, busyness to appreciate silence, being alone. Or one may be called to contemplation and know inner peace. This is the positive solitude as in the song composed by Purcell upon this poem:
O solitude, my sweetest choice:
Places devoted to the night,
Remote from tumult and from noise,
How ye my restless thoughts delight!
O solitude, my sweetest choice.
O heav’ns, what content is mine
To see these trees, which have appear’d
From the nativity of time,
And which all ages have rever’d,
To look today as fresh and green
As when their beauties first were seen.
O, how agreeable a sight
These hanging mountains do appear,
Which th’ unhappy would invite
To finish all their sorrows here,
When their hard fate makes them endure
Such woes as only death can cure.
O, how I solitude adore!
That element of noblest wit,
Where I have learnt Apollo’s lore,
Without the pains to study it.
For thy sake I in love am grown
With what thy fancy does pursue;
But when I think upon my own,
I hate it for that reason too,
Because it needs must hinder me
From seeing and from serving thee.
O solitude, O how I solitude adore!
Katherine Fowler Philips (1631 – 1664)
(sung by Alfred Deller)
And one may live solitude like a punishment or a curse, some kind of hell in the midst of noise, crowd, busyness that are uncongenial, or in the midst of nothingness. World without end.