Sunday, August 1, 2010

Diaries of a Dying Man

After having the book by me for many weeks I have finally come to the end of William Soutar's, 'Diaries of a Dying Man'.  As is usually the case after reading a book that powerfully engages me, I am now a little unsettled concerning what next to read.  'Diaries' is not a long book, only 176 pages, but it does require close reading and, to understand some of Soutar, a good deal of reflection on what has been read.  The extracts from his poetry, written in Scottish, are beyond my current understanding but I found his English prose arresting.  To express and reinforce so many of my own ideas and ideals I could usefully quote much of Soutar.  Here, for example, is an extract from his entry for 8th October 1943, just weeks before he died:
  "Our body and soul cry out for change and refreshment; for the expansiveness of a world untrammelled by excessive regulation.  We want to feel that Earth has been washed clean again, and that from her comes the uncontaminated richness of fruit and grain.  A few simple things could bring about this change, a sense of freedom, and a return of a joy in earth.  And if such a one placed in a privileged position can have so intense longings - what agonies of desire must be experienced by the millions of destitute folk......"
Freedom untrammelled by excessive regulation and a joy in Earth; great ideas!


Andrew Scott said...

I haven't read the Diaries, but have enjoyed quite a few of the poems. Now it seems I will have to read the Diaries... Once again John, you seem to be in control of my life. What is happening? But then, perhaps you were prompted to read the Diaries by my earlier post about the Soutar poem on the sculpture in Perth, which I know you read. So am I the one who is really in control? Or are we both just flailing around at the mercy of the flow?

John Foster said...

The idea of control, Andrew, active or passive, is an anathema to me; nor am I keen on the idea of being dependent on the mercy of anything as nebulous as 'The Flow'. But I am fascinated by the consequences of coincidences that present themselves in our lives; the unlocking of doors that open onto corridors without end lined with more doors of more corridors lined with yet more doors. Soutar's shade though seems to have you and I on more of a roundabout of thought than a linear progression but I am happy to stay on the ride for a few more revolutions.