Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Melancholic catharsis

Waking up from restless sleep, from dreams that I know were strange but which I can’t quite remember fully when consciousness sets in – these are things that I find disquieting. I lie hapless in bed, trying desperately to recall where my mind went to during those hours of heavy slumber, to no avail. I can only recall momentary images, snatches of sensation. They’re like wisps of smoke that tantalize my brain, making me feel a tad melancholic.

What to do when melancholia sets in? Why, feed it, of course! Sometimes I find that giving in to it, giving it free rein and not suppressing it can be comforting. Listening to sad music, watching a sad movie, reading bleak poetry – these can be cathartic for me.

Take this poem, for example, from one of my favorite poets, Anne Sexton (she committed suicide, by the way. Isn’t that depressing?)


I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

Listening to poets like the suicidal Anne reading their own poetry aloud is even better. There’s something seductive about the experience of knowing that the words I’m hearing are being uttered by the very same person whose mind gave birth to them. If you feel like it, you can go to the poets.org site and hear some of the other poems that I like to listen to from time to time – read aloud by the authors themselves. There’s Thom Gunn reading his Death’s Door, Dylan Thomas reading his Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Robert Frost reading his The Road Not Taken, and several others.

Odd how voices of melancholy can be so soothing.


houseband00 said...

Aww, cheer up, Lizza. =)

Lizza said...

I am! I'm all cheered up. :-D

ShadowFalcon said...

I always end up reading Christina Rosseti when I get melancholy...its not a good thing

hope your feeling better

Lizza said...

Oh yes, her poem "Remember" is very sad.

I'm feeling fine now, really! These moods of mine are momentary. It dissipated hours and hours ago. Thanks, shadowfalcon. :-)

zeroimpact said...

My comfort is in the songs that makes my world
Like you, I sometimes like to see my world fall to pieces when I feel melancholy
Or izzit just me

Matt-Man said...

Nice post. Dylan Thomas is my absolute fave. Coincidently I used a quote from him today on my post. Amazingly it is not a depressing one. Cheers Lizza...

H said...

Aww. Lizza, a HUG for all the pain.

Lizza said...

ZI: Many of us are a stickler for mental anguish. :-)

Matt: His poetry is great. It's nice to hear him reading "Do Not Go Gentle." Take a listen!

H: You're such a sweetie. Thank youuuuu. :-)

INAMINI said...

I also have lots of "depression music" I listen to. Might as well go all the way. Thanks for the link to the poetry site- a very satisfying way to close my eyes and just listen.

Lizza said...

You're welcome, inamini. It's a great site. "Depression music"--I listen to that too.

Odat said...

Thanks for the site recommendation!
I love hearing poetry read aloud.
Be well lil "Infinity"!

Lizza said...

You're welcome, viagra! :-) Get well soon.

Bond said...

There are times when melancholy morphs into glorious happiness...

Wishing you sweet smiles

Lizza said...

Yes, and it's heavenly when that happens. Thanks, Vinny. :-)