This is part of a DIY education project I’ve undertaken called The 1000-Day MFA that I learned about from writer Shaunta Grimes. You can read more about how I’m engaging with it here. By the way, there is no rhyme or reason to how I choose the poems, essays, and short stories. I’m just throwing my net out to the world, and reading whatever I catch.
by William Butler Yeats (1899)
Essay: The Death of the Moth
by Virginia Woolf (1942)
Short Story: The Story of an Hour
by Kate Chopin (1894)
Isn't it wonderful? I just threw out my net, and these three classics came back to me, shining with life. I'm throwing them back, but not before a word about how they've moved me.
There is such profound feeling in all three. I gathered them kind of dutifully, thinking that I 'should', you know, read the classics. I knew Yeats and Woolf, but learned of Chopin with this day's assignment. I felt like I'd fallen into the ocean and discovered an underwater cave full of treasure.
Yeats' poem speaks the truth about true, old friends: "Time's bitter tide will rise / your beauty perish and be lost / for all eyes but these eyes."
Virginia Woolf offers us the mindful presence with a dying moth, marking his every move, his every attempt at life, and his eventual passing into that death which is stronger than all of us in the end. I felt an ironic connection, a connected absence of need or aversion. No Tibetan lama could outmatch this teaching about how to be with death.
And Kate Chopin just basically shot me between the eyes. (I'd never heard her name. Just think. I get to discover all these amazing writers in my later years! What a great feeling it is not to know anything. It's all still ahead of me.) This piece "The Story of an Hour" is considered "one of the finest pieces of Feminist Literature." And I understand why. I came away from it feeling seen, as though a stranger and I had recognized each other and shared a silent communion in secret.