When I was young, perhaps eleven or twelve, I read the poem “Silence” by Marianne Moore. It was right around the time that I had started to explore my own poetry and craft my own metaphors. I remember the phrase “the glass flowers at Harvard” sticking out to me in a beautiful way.
At the time, it was a lovely phrase in the midst of a mixture of words that didn’t make sense to me. Now, on rereading it as an adult, I see how beautiful and eloquent Moore’s entire poem was. It speaks to me on a level that it did not when I was a child.
My father used to say,
"Superior people never make long visits,
have to be shown Longfellow's grave
or the glass flowers at Harvard.
Self-reliant like the cat-
that takes its prey to privacy,
the mouse's limp tail hanging like a shoelace from its mouth-
they sometimes enjoy solitude,
and can be robbed of speech,
by speech which has delighted them.
The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence;
not in silence, but restraint."
Nor was he insincere in saying, "Make my house your inn."
Inns are not residences.
Given my childhood, it’s funny what pierces my heart and stabs my soul. It’s not the beauty of the phrase “the glass flowers at Harvard” (though, to Moore’s credit, that is a wonderful turn of phrase). It’s the last two lines of the poem.
Without getting too autobiographical, my childhood home felt as though it was curated for an interior design magazine. It did not feel like a home. I felt like I was walking into a stranger’s house every time I came home.
Home is such an interesting concept to me. I would love to explore the idea of it more in my writing.
PS: Anyone interested in reading an excerpt of a short story I’m working on?