On Being Alone

from Elizabeth 

Perhaps there are ghosts at school, or wicked wolves in hiding on the ridge, or evil spirits that dwell in the depths of the furnace room and grope their sinister way up through the pipes and into our rooms, but we have never seen them. We have lived for two seasons untouched by the slightest hint of the supernatural; there are no haunted houses in the immediate vicinity, and no neglected grave yards- scarcely even a blighted tree, in this spring term or a barren field to hold before us a symbol of terror and death. Why is it then, when there is nothing to fear and we have surely outgrown the bogies of our younger days, that so many of us seem to dread being alone? We say to each other, “I hate Sundays; there are so many quiet hours,” or “It must be wonderful to have a roommate, someone to talk to in study hour.” All this is rather strange. Why does being alone, when we have a hundred companions most of the time, present such a great trial or why should we wish to keep the conversation going so endlessly? The fear of a quiet hour alone is greater than the fear of all those innumerable quiet hours alone that are ahead of all of us.
There is a peculiar quality about being alone, an atmosphere that no sounds or persons can ever give. It is as if being with people were the Earth of the mind, the land with its hills and valleys, scent and music: but in being alone, the mind finds its Sea, the wide, quiet plane with different lights in the sky and different more secret sounds. It appears that we are frightened by the first breaking of its waves at our feet and now we will never go on voyages of discovery, never feel the free winds that have blown over water, and never find the islands of the imagination, where there lives unknown curious beasts and strange peoples. Being alone can be fun. Alone, the mind can do what it wants without even the velvet leash of sleep but we can never understand this while we stand on the shore with our backs to the water and cry after our companions. Perhaps we shall never know the companion in ourselves who is with us all our lives, the nearness of our minds at all times to the rare person whose heart quickens when a bird climbs high and alone in the clear air.

avec couplets, triplets and quatrains of kisses…

The Castle Lady


About Evelyn

The Castle Lady Official web site: www.ilovecastles.com other blogs: ilovecastles.blogspot.com evelynsrockpages.blogspot.com evelyns-nailsforlife.blogspot.com
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2 Responses to On Being Alone

  1. i like this. i like the way being alone is called the sea of our minds … and i love the sea!


    • Evelyn says:

      I loved this piece, too. Elizabeth Bishop was primarily known as a poet but I’m intrigued most by her other writings such as this one. There is a haunting story in this book as well titled, “Gwendolyn”. I think you would love it too. Her stories are as enigmatic as Shirley Jackson’s. I got it from http://www.loa.com They publish mostly classic literature with each volume devoted to a single author. A lot of the works they pack into these compact volumes are previously unpublished.


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