She sounded like a complete idiot who very luckily came through her ordeal and then made a million because of it, and so I wanted nothing to do with it. But I confess now that I spent last weekend happily enjoying Wild by Cheryl Strayed. (The irony is not lost on me that I spent much of a lovely weekend lying around reading about a woman hiking her feet off.)(So shut up.) But if this isn’t one of the most ardent descriptions of why poetry matters, I don’t know what is. Backstory: She only brought a few books on her hiking trip, and with each one, she would read and then burn the pages she’d read. Then she wrote:
“I pulled out the other book in my ziplock bag. It was The Dream of a Common Language. I’d carried it all this way, though I hadn’t opened it since that first night on the trail. I hadn’t needed to. I knew what it said….I’d chanted those lines silently through the days while I hiked. Often I didn’t know exactly what they meant, yet there was another way in which I knew their meaning entirely, as if it were all before me and yet out of my grasp, their meaning like a fish just beneath the surface of the water that I tried to catch with my bare hands — so close and present and belonging to me — until I reached for it and it flashed away.
I closed the book and looked at its beige cover. There was no reason not to burn this book too.
Instead, I only hugged it to my chest.”