Gerard Manley Hopkins

“Spring and Fall”

 1880

To a young child
Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! Ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Doris Lessing

Introduction to The Golden Notebook

 1971

At last I understood that the way over, or through, this dilemma, the unease of writing about “petty personal problems” was to recognize that nothing is personal, in the sense that it is uniquely one’s own. Writing about oneself, one is writing about others, since your problems, pains, pleasures, emotions—and your extraordinary and remarkable ideas—can’t be yours alone. The way to deal with the problem of “subjectivity,” that shocking business of being preoccupied with the tiny individual who is at the same time caught up in such an explosion of terrible and marvelous possibilities, is to see him as a microcosm and in this way to break through the personal, the subjective, making the personal general, as indeed life always does, transforming a private experience—or so you think of it when still a child, “I am falling in love,” “I am feeling this or that emotion, or thinking that or the other thought”—into something much larger: growing up is after all only the understanding that one’s unique and incredible experience is what everyone shares.

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