Wordsworth, “That in this moment there is life and food / For future years…”
It was in Berlin, Barcelona, Athens, Rome that I felt most strongly we were filling our granary for the future, and not just because we went droning like bees between every bookstore in town, picking up as many foreign-language books as would fit in an extra duffel bag or three. (“No se necesita ropa interior,” said the charming woman running the bookstore in front of the Palau de la Música Catalana, “siempre que quepan los libros.”) Now and then we dreamed of permanent expatriation, but our wiser selves knew it was an exceptional time and would have to end. So when I saw a pair of hoopoes burst out of the scrub on the back of Tibidabo, or magpies go bouncing at dawn over the grounds of the Freie Universität as if mounted on springs, I said to myself, “Keep this.” I choose birds as examples since birds don’t stay where you put them.
By almost any measure I would have used back then, these have been lean years, nibbling at memory. I know also, by R.’s hair cinematically haloed in the afternoon, that they are laying up treasure of another sort.
Wordsworth always sounds so damnably satisfied with his own mind. These days we feel closer to Proust, alike as he is, probably because he can novelistically bracket his character and make clear that we’re following a vulnerable child. The easiest way for us to live with Wordsworth now is to novelize him, to bring out the fear. As I live with myself.