Joel Sumner Smith

Product Manager @Gatsby focused on developer experience.
Analogical thinker in an analytical world.

Letters

Two ways one might live without Paradise

Joyfully, I spent a lackadaisical Friday afternoon reading the first few hundred lines of Wordsworth’s Prelude. In a way I was decompressing from Greek, in another I was indulgding myself. The true justification for such a reading perhaps is one of pursuing knowledge: I, by nature, reach out to read poetry (which my professors will tell my should not be read.) But where have I gone? “Is it perfume from a dress/ that makes me so digress?” This bit of writing has promised the Paradisial, but into what darkened corner of my mind must I peer to find it? Patience, to prevent my anxiety, I hear reply: “outside.”  Where? I now know, again. I began in Wordsworth, but he began in Milton:

The World was all before them, where to choose
Thir place of rest, and Providence thir guide:
They hand in hand with wandring steps and slow,
Through Eden took thir solitarie way. (XII.626-9)

And here, the heretic and inheretor replies:

The earth is all before me. With a heart
 Joyous, nor scared at its own liberty,
I look about; and should the chosen guide
Be nothing better than a wandering cloud,
I cannot miss my way. I breathe again! (I.14-18)

What Joy awaits the careful reader? What high argument may the heretic yet have in store?

© 2020, Joel Sumner Smith