I did not plan on reading this on top of everything else, but this book (in fact the whole tetralogy) was recommended to me by Irwin at the bookstore. And I’m surprised how absorbed I am by it because I normally don’t go in for this sort of thing, but my goodness it’s beautifully written and he can create such fascinating characters with just a few words, such as the poor old furrier who lost Melissa.
While everyone is somewhat mean and cruel to each other, I never get the impression that Dostoevsky is mean or cruel to them, he’s only showing us how these people live, and it’s about what you’d expect if you looked in on a lot of people’s lives: bickering, petty intrigue, half-baked ideas, affairs, generalizations about politics and society. But the point is that he wants us to care about these people.
I think back to “There’s something quieter than sleep” where she sees the dead body, and I’m imagining her writing about the heart and the spirit leaving the body here. The spirit (in this poem represented as “I”) is eager to move on yet the heart lags behind and the spirit is worried it will be called back to “the natural warmth he gave” of the body. For me the key word here is “pray” in that when the heart is done (as the body dies) it engages in prayer with the spirit so that the spirit can move on.
The previous poem, “I keep my pledge“, speaks of Death not coming for her and so she remains in the natural world of experience (I guess I’m thinking Blake here), and so these three poems form a sort of unity of thought and image where death is a calling to a new world, but there is a pull, a “simple gravity” to remain alive and experience the “light” and “warmth” of this world.