For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Hello You, Hello Universe

Many have written long literary and mystical texts on mankind's problematic rapport with the natural world, and how we all have the potential ability to be in harmony with the near and far universe if only we knew how to grasp it. (Jonathan Bate has written, from a writerly, metaphorical standpoint, a wonderful book about this called The Song of the Earth. I too have touched on it from time to time, for instance here.)

Many also have written even longer psychological, anthropological and sociological studies on identity and our individual relationship with ourselves and with others. Indeed, parts of the blogworld have been riffing round this theme recently.

But Emily Dickinson manages somehow to condense all of the above, with breathtaking clarity and a little touch of ambiguity (the word ourselves), in this remarkable short poem. And in just 16 words. Magic.

We introduce ourselves
To Planets and to Flowers
But with ourselves
Have etiquettes
Embarrassments
And awes

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