When I was a Freshman in college, I came across a poem that might as well have climbed out of Norton’s Anthology of English Literature, fully garbed in nineteenth century attire and recited itself to me, so great was the impact it had on me. I was to realise over two decades later that there was a twist to this beautiful piece almost as mystical as the poem itself. First of all here’s Sudden Light by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
I have been here before….
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door
The sweet, keen smell
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore
You have been mine before
How long ago I may not know
Yet, just when at the swallow’s soar
Your neck turn’d so ….
Some veil did fall, I knew it all of yore
Though age, faith or creed
May keep us apart now
One travels the hill, the other the lake
I claim you still for my own love’s sake
Delayed though it may be for more lives yet
Much is to learn, much to forget
‘Ere the time be come for taking you
But the time will come…oh yes!
The time will come.
Beautiful, right? Now here’s the interesting part. I can’t seem to remember where I originally came across it. Equally intriguing is the fact that I never wondered who wrote it or even what it was called. About a year ago I saw it again in one of my old diaries and for the first time I wanted to know who the poet was. I went to our latter day oracle, Google, to gain some insight. It turns out that in this version the last verse isn’t even written by Dante. It may have been penned by Linda Goodman, astrologer extraordinaire.
What I love about this is that Life communicates with us through many voices and sometimes the conversation can become both deeply personal and universal at the same time.
Is there a song, a book, a piece of art, a place or a meeting that has stopped you in your tracks and made you feel as if it were looking deep into your eyes and speaking directly to you, so intense was the sense of familiarity with it? I would love to hear from you!