Posted by: jeannineatkins | May 6, 2008

Why We Write

Sometimes when my heart breaks upon hearing distressing stories about the publishing world, I reread a bit of Lewis Hyde’s The Gift, which looks at art and writing in an age before commerce. It’s kind of a weighty tome (as you might guess from its subtitle, Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property) and I can’t pretend to comprehend it all, but I find courage from short dips in and out. I just reread a description at the book’s end of Pablo Neruda’s essay, “Childhood and Poetry.” Neruda speaks of being small and playing in a lot behind his house One day a tiny hand appeared through a hole in the fence. As Neruda came over to look close, the boy’s hand disappeared. In its place was a toy sheep with broken wheels. Neruda took the shabby but lovely toy, went inside his house, and brought out a fragrant pine cone, its petals open, which he loved. He put that through the hole.

Looking back, Neruda sees this as the moment he became a poet. Something beautiful and unbidden came his way. He found another treasure to give back.



  1. Oh my, this is so lovely. It is a good reminder to me to slow down. I read so fast that I miss these wonderful nuggets.
    Thank you for sharing.

  2. WOW! I love that bit about the hole in the fence and the sharing of treasures. That’s what you do – share treasure in every post your write. Thank you!

  3. What a great story. I can just see the little hand and the pine cone.

  4. Lovely story. Thank you!

  5. That’s interesting, Susan. I feel I read so slowly that I miss a lot that way!

  6. Thanks, sweetheart! You’re too good.

  7. Jeannine, that is so lovely. Thanks for sharing it.

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