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Location: Austin, TX, United States

Scholar, Writer, Mother, Dreamer. Editor of Luminarium, an online library for English Literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Insomnia, the Hollow-toothed Beast

Why is it that sleeplessness always lurks on the unwary when they are most exhausted, both physically and emotionally? The mind, the ever-rattling box of tricks, will not quiet down and sleep shies away when most we need it.

Perhaps I'm just tired of always saying 'Good' when people ask me how I am. This society like many others nearly demands it of us, to shield our fellow man the embarrassment or worry or feeling of helplessness to assist us, if we were actually to say "not great." I'm trying to stay away from negativity, but sometimes the dark monster of despair hits in the wee hours of the morning; the fear of, as Jack Nicholson's character says in the movie of the same title, "What if this is as good as it gets?"

Many times when I feel this dark, I turn to the writings of people who've gone before, greater minds than mine, whose moments of darkness make me feel less alone. Shakespeare himself wrote a number of sonnets while suffering from insomnia and loneliness, and countless artists create their best work in the darkling hours between 2 and 5 am.

I was looking for a Coleridge quote I read in Clive Barker's "Weaveworld" years ago (great book - if you haven't read it, you're missing out):

"If a man could pass thro’ Paradise in a Dream, & have
a flower presented to him as a pledge that his Soul had
really been there, & found that flower in his hand when
he awoke — Aye, and what then?"

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Beautiful, huh? Anyway, in the same place that I found that, I found another quote by him that I felt corresponded well with my experience, since much of the poetry I write tends to be melancholy:

"I write melancholy, always melancholy: You will suspect
that it is the fault of my natural Temper. Alas! no. —
This is the great Occasion that my Nature is made for
Joy — impelling me to Joyance — & I never, never can
yield to it."

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In Coleridge I've frequently found a kindred spirit - I feel kinship in his rhythms and rhyme schemes - a lot of my fairy tale poetry has a similar cadence, and although our creations live in different worlds from each other, they share a texture at times. And no, I'm not flattering myself to elevate my poetry to Coleridge's level, just saying there's something about him that I 'get'.

Then again, I write in many genres of poetry - from the Japanese haiku and tanka, impressionist poems if you will, to full-out Shakespearean Sonnets (one of my faveshakes here), to the afore-mentioned fairytale poems, to poems in the vein of Pablo Neruda (My favorite Neruda poem is here), to the poems of a wonderful Finnish poet, Risto Rasa (I have a website with translations here) -- I never quite know what is going to come out before it's actually on the page. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to sleep and, the next morning, read what I've written as if they were poems I were reading for the first time. Sounds scary, huh, but I assure you there is no psychosis to it - more like you are so caught in the creative moment that the poetry pours out of you faster than you yourself can process it.

So, Gentle Reader, if you're not quite exhausted yet with my early morning ramblings, here is one of my own poems:

I should write
     More happy poems -
          Poems of comfort,
          Poems of contentment.
Yet, do we not
     Need poetry
          All the more
In the lonesome hours of the night
     When grief
          Has struck us dumb,
And another's words
     Of heart's sorrow
Are the only balm
     For our aching souls?

-AJ (Jan, 2004)

Well, the sun has risen and I will try once again to get some sleep.

I remain, A

Tags: Insomnia | Anniina's Poetry

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Blogger John said...

lol looks like someone was a lil bored had to make blog too so i could post be cool anyway we can keep in touch easier now i guess liked ur poem my gf rights poetry too sorta getting into it myself not that good though lol oh yea before this freaks u out and ur liek who the hell is this crazy person its Shin lol

January 12, 2006 11:09 AM  

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