Quote Of The Day: Too Tender To Be told

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Quote Of The Day #65

A perfect, paralyzing bliss
Contented as despair

I took my power in my hand
and went against the world
It was not much as David had,
But I was twice as bold.

Glow plain and foreign
On my homesick eye

That blame is just as dear as praise
And praise as mere as blame.

Undue significance a starving man attaches
To food

Assent, and you are sane;
Demur, you are straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain

These quotes are from “The Selected Poems Of Emily Dickinson”. As I was reading it, I was highlighting a lot of interesting lines, but afterwards, when I tried to find some quotes and went back to it, I didn’t feel the undulating emotion I felt before. Probably I need to reread it when I have time.

It is said different languages might be using different parts of a human brain. Studies have shown that a person who’s dyslexia in English can read quite normally in some Asian languages; and vice versa.

And as a non-native speaker, I feel that English is definitely using a different part of my brain. While reading English poems, I just don’t feel the same way. This is why for a long time, I don’t read much English poems at all. Then one day, for some strange reason which I can’t remember now what it was, I picked up Auden’s Selected Poems and read for an hour or two. Suddenly, an emotion just came up, like a wave pushing me forward to devour the lines that are not even rhyming but full of intrigue. I guess I missed most of his metaphors, but still with what I could comprehend, it was enough to make me absorbed or even a little enamored.

Ever since then, I’ve learned my lesson. With English poems, I am not looking for that instant connection as what I would feel with my native language, but rather it is a prolonged process of going through pages after pages of poems of one particular poet, waiting for that moment to happen again–a wave to come over me to make me feel alive..

23 thoughts on “Quote Of The Day: Too Tender To Be told

  1. There is a pull and feeling to reading literature of different languages. It’s like listening to various types of music. Each one triggers different emotions and thoughts. Similar to gliding over waves of various sizes and force. I might be rambling but I hope you get the meaning. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I think so too. I just to add that sometimes one has mixed emotions and contradictory feelings and don’t know how to describe the mixture. Often we would deny and suppress those elements that are not acceptable by the society and emphasize those that are accepted and praised.

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      1. This reminds me a time when I met a Chinese language and literature teacher from Hong Kong and I told her I am interested in classical Chinese literature. She told me I should learn Cantonese since it is older than Mandarin. I told her I know, but Cantonese is too hard for me. Next I asked her to quote this one Li Bai poem in Cantonese to which she did. I was blown away by how it sounded so much better in Cantonese than in Mandarin.

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        1. Yes, I believe that. There are some really old operas based on Cantonese, which are extremely beautiful, using many ancient characters. LOL. The really ancient Chinese are probably more like Cantonese, but then my ancestors, those Mongolians, and other people people who spoke various forms of Tartar-Turkish kind of language but Asian looking, moved south. A lot of them tried to learn Mandarin when they were adults. They couldn’t handle those tones and ended up reducing Mandarin tones to 4. Haha, my ancestors made a lot of difficult words disappear too. Now you know what I am thinking… I hope non-native speakers like me can make English easier, but I guess that’s impossible since once the written script is created, there is a strong force of preserving what the native speakers want to preserve…

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  2. As someone who’s multilingual, I’ve always wondered if I use different parts of my brain for different languages. Anyhoo, great topic on Emily Dickinson. I’ve always found it inspiring that she wrote all her poems for her own eyes only.

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    1. Yes, it is said she’s a recluse and she is almost anti-social, but I somehow imagine that she is probably discouraged by certain events in her life, or people’s negative comments on her poems (at least one prominent editor at the time criticized). And unfortunately she is from a well off family. She doesn’t have those resolves that a poor man can have, which is to distinguish himself against all odds and against all negative comments.

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  3. Great post as always. I think we definitely have different languages in different parts of our brain. I know four and am learning a fifth. They all use a different part of my brain for sure. I think with non-native languages you need to give your brain time to properly process them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, learn more. You seem to enjoy it and have an interest in languages. It is a great exercise of brain cells. LOL. People in the Asian community here often say that the non-native language, for example English, will be lost when one gets old. It really frightens me. I don’t know why people say such things. I hope it is not true and it is quite frightening just to think of it…

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        1. Haha, I am getting a little forgetful, you know, being middle-aged and everything. This is why I took up Spanish and Thai in 2020. LOL. It is really frightening to think that one can forget everything one has learned. I hope not, but there are all kinds of fallacies and fake news going on… One can help hearing them even if one doesn’t want to…

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I find that it difficult to make an instant connection with poetry even in my own language. Most of the lines I love I first heard many years ago. Yet I was drawn to poetry as a teenager – but I guess I was then only reading the major poets who had stood the test of time, so it was easy to form an instant connection.

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