By Siegfried Sassoon
When I’m alone’ – the words tripped off his tongue
As though to be alone were nothing strange.
‘When I was young,’ he said; ‘when I was young . . .’
I thought of age, and loneliness, and change.
I thought how strange we grow when we’re alone,
And how unlike the selves that meet, and talk,
And blow the candles out, and say good-night.
Alone . . . The word is life endured and known.
It is the stillness where our spirits walk
And all but inmost faith is overthrown.
German/American writer Rosmarie Waldrop writes about her feeling of displacement between Europe and America
I’m not quite at home
on either side of the Atlantic
I’m not irritated the fish
a home makes you forget
where you are
unless you think you’d like
to be some place
I can’t think I’d like to be
some other place
places are much the same
I stand securely in a liquid pane
touched on all sides
to change your country
doesn’t make you
grow (a German doll
into an image of America?)
it doesn’t make you change so much
you can’t remember
things are much the same
so much the same
differences are barbed
I try out living at a distance
watching from a window
not all here
a creature with gills and lungs
I live in shallow water
but when it rains
I inherit the land
An extract from The Cocktail Party by T.S. Eliot:
“We die to each other daily. What we know of other people is only our memory of the moments during which we knew them. And they have changed since then. To pretend that they and we are the same is a useful and convenient social convention which must sometimes be broken. We must also remember that at every meeting we are meeting a stranger.”
Holden Caulfield speaks on change and stability…or something like that…
The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move. You could go there a hundred thousand times, and that Eskimo would still be just finished catching those two fish, the birds would still be on their way south, the deers would still be drinking out of that water hole, with their pretty antlers and they’re pretty, skinny legs, and that squaw with the naked bosom would still be weaving that same blanket. Nobody’d be different. The only thing that would be different would be you. Not that you’d be so much older or anything. It wouldn’t be that, exactly. You’d just be different, that’s all. You’d have an overcoat this time. Or the kid that was your partner in line the last time had got scarlet fever and you’d have a new partner. Or you’d have a substitute taking the class, instead of Miss Aigletinger. Or you’d heard your mother and father having a terrific fight in the bathroom. Or you’d just passed by one of those puddles in the street with gasoline rainbows in them. I mean you’d be different in some way—I can’t explain what I mean. And even if I could, I’m not sure I’d feel like it.
From The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger