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Flashback Friday: Bernard Berenson Groping for Limits

Today we’re going to take a look at James Sutton’s poem, “Bernard Berenson Groping for Limits”. This poem first appeared in the Torrid Literature Journal Vol. XI – The Butterfly Effect.

Bernard Berenson Groping for Limits

By James Sutton

“My life’s the poem I would have writ,

but I could not both live and utter it.” – Thoreau

When those who follow wonder how it felt

to live in times as turbulent as these,

forgetting that each time has ice that melts

& fire that heats beyond where things should be,

they’ll seek out poets of that time to say

what fluttered in the feeling heart back when,

and what they hear will vibrate in their day

in sympathy to what was suffered then.

A picture’s worth a thousand words, and one

is known to truncate starkly in a scream;

but in the main, when pain & grief are done,

it’s poets who declare where hearts have been.

So poetry has purpose, after all,

provided poets answer to its call.

Volume XI was published on July 1, 2014. Click here to purchase your copy today.

If you’re interested in submitting your unpublished poem or short story to the Torrid Literature Journal, please click here.

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Stepping Towards Desertion

Elegy has been around since the days of ancient Greece. Elegy is a type of poetry whose tone starts off sorrowful and ends on a comforting level concerning the deceased, thus setting it apart from a eulogy which is more of a tribute to the dead. A eulogy involves the speaker of the poem praising the life, character, and achievements of a deceased person. An elegy doesn’t stop at the feelings of mourning. It brings the grieving process around full circle to a close.

Some great examples of elegy are John Milton’s “Lycidas”, Paul Celan’s “Fugue of Death”, and Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Duino Elegies”.

Death is one of the least talked about subjects today when it comes to ourselves or someone we care about. Thanks to the advancement and support of literature in general, writers past, present, and future have and continue to find ways of expressing our feelings regarding loved ones passed. From odes and eulogies to simple sympathy cards and letters, writers are continually reinventing and developing new ways of dealing with death and the grieving process. As readers, we’re able to more easily relate to loss when others share their pain with us. It lets us know we’re not alone. That no guilt is needed for various ways our grief is expressed.

Torrid Activity:

In sticking with the theme of this article, take a past breakup. Its put to death and done with. Sometimes it’s for the best, but we often don’t see that at first. We’re only human. We never realized that the trigger to end it all would be pulled and released in the first place. How many times have we used leaving as a threat, thinking our bluff would never be called? How many times have we let pride consume us into thinking our significant other would never leave ‘such a good thing’? Regardless of the way or reason relationships end, we tend to miss many emotions. Many of us get caught up in the initial shock of it all that its even over to begin with, completely overlooking the possibility that deep inside us there’s a sigh of relief going off. We also tend to miss the fact that the majority of us are truly better on our own till something better comes along. It’s not always a good idea to settle or downgrade. At this point you’re doing an injustice to your heart and wasting time.

Torrid Literature is going to twist this concept around a bit. Write an elegy using the three stages of loss to express your feelings and outlook on a past breakup: 1) Grief that it’s reached this point, 2) Praise that it’s done, 3) Consolation at a better romance for tomorrow.

Have fun with this exercise. Say what you will as you’re lead by your heart. What’s really not being said? Hopefully in doing this exercise you’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief at being able to release any pent up emotions you’ve been holding in. Writing is a form of therapy and its okay to hurt or even be angry. Just keep in mind that anger is always a secondary emotion being driven by an underlying feeling (usually fear or pain). So if you want to rid yourself of the anger and bitterness (if any exists) for ultimate healing then find out what’s really going on. What are you afraid of? Why are you truly hurting? Have you taken the initial step of forgiving yourself before making any other moves? Another good point to keep in mind is no matter how much justification you believe lies in your anger or pain, there’s never enough to warrant you staying there indefinitely or for long periods of time. Especially since, chances are the other party has either moved on or isn’t giving the situation any further thought. Allow yourself to break the chains. Gain emotional freedom. Don’t let your emotions make you a prisoner in your own soul.

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