Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Joy of Reading ~ Clara and Mr. Tiffany

from Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland

It was our books that remained. I was careful to pick out my own, leaving his. Into my carpetbag first went my mother's Shakespeare, the plays and the sonnets. I couldn't help but think of the first line of Sonnet Twenty-nine, which seemed to be aimed at me this last month as it never had before.  "When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes."  In went my mother's etiquette book, The Habits of Good Society: A Handbook for Ladies and Gentlemen, which I read with some levity, and my stepfather's Bible and his Minister's Bible Concordance, which bristled when I put Whitman's Leaves of Grass next to it. My leather-bound Keats and Wordsworth came next, reminding me that it wasn't a bad thing to brighten one's days with snips of poetry, like my mother did. Then Ibsen's plays, Vasari's Lives of the Artists, and Henry James's Daisy Miller and The Portrait of a Lady. There stood Emily Dickinson. The 1890 collection, her first, Francis had given me. The 1891 collection I had given him. I took them both, wondering what follows The Sweeping up the Heart / And putting Love away.

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