After reflecting on the pieces of literature such as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark”, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”, and William Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”, I recognized how these certain works made a connection to the Zen meditation session I attended this Tuesday with Dr. Davis. These pieces of literature made a connection with my Zen meditation session in the sense that poetry and meditation both require close attention and both attempt to make peaceful connections in themselves, based on one’s own interpretation. While in meditation it is easy to find a peaceful connection with your mind and yourself, poets also strive to make these peaceful connections apparent through their overlying themes and through their diction, or word choice, within their pieces of work. The act of meditation necessitates a person to focus on their inner feelings and self-being, while reading these pieces of literature focused on the emotions of the speaker.
To say the least, our meditation assembly aims to focus on no path, except yourself, and a feeling of emptiness, while still making peaceful connections in one’s own life. On the other side of the spectrum, poetry wants to direct its reader on a certain path of focus, which was accomplished by the mentioned works.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark”, the reader understands that the man Aylmer becomes gradually disgusted with the birthmark on his wife’s cheek, whose name is Georgiana. An example in this short story where you witness peaceful and thoughtful connections being made in regard to Georgiana is when her old lovers describe how the birthmark on her face came to be. Her lovers suppose that when Georgiana was born, a fairy came and laid its hand on her cheek, leaving the impression on her face that had a mysterious power that would take the hearts of all men. The story continues to say that “the impression wrought by this fairy sign manual varied exceedingly, according to the difference of temperament in the beholders” (Hawthorne 467). The meaning behind mentioning this though was that not all of Georgiana’s lovers would feel the same way about this “impression”, and that some would actually find it repulsive, based on the eyes of the beholder.
Another example in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the reader is introduced to a woman, who is also the narrator in this case, who suffers from a nervous depression. The narrator is advised not to engage in any physical activities, especially writing, which happens to be one of her favorite hobbies. When commenting on her journalism, she remarks, “I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind” (Gilman 388). This statement clearly exclaims the narrator’s feelings towards writing and is used as her personal stress reliever, even at the cost of her own well being. Though she refers to her journal as “dead paper”, she is able to convey peaceful connections about her life and express the problems that she faces. Meditation does this in a similar sense for me because when I meditate, I try to block out the anxiety and problems I encountered in the day, and replace them with serene thoughts.
A final example where these peaceful connections are observed is within William Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”. Wordsworth entertains and satisfies his thoughts through the scenery that nature has to offer. Wordsworth appeases nature by commenting that a poet could not be happier in the company of such beauty. He says, “I gazed – and gazed – but little thought / What wealth the show to me had brought” (Wordsworth 635). Here, Wordsworth is so caught up in speculating nature that no thoughts are coming to mind, he is staring in utmost admiration. This is Wordsworth’s way of making the peaceful connections in his life, as he states that dancing with the daffodils fills his heart with a pleasure that is “the bliss of solitude”.