Ode to Solitude

Spiritual Friendship

Photograph of Igor Stravinsky by Irving Penn. New York, April 22, 1948 Photograph of Igor Stravinsky by Irving Penn. New York, April 22, 1948

A single man, like myself, confronts solitude every day as patient friend or relentless enemy, as cure or ailment, as mountain vista or obscure cave. The 20th century Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, experienced these binaries in his own life. Without solidarity, solitude is unbearable, as Neruda said about his foreign service in Rangoon, Burma: “Solitude, in this case, was not a formula for building up a writing mood but something as hard as a prison wall; you could smash your head against the wall and nobody came, no matter how you screamed or wept.” With solidarity, however, solitude is not only bearable but even productive, as he said in 1971 Nobel Prize lecture:

There arises an insight which the poet must learn through other people. There is no insurmountable solitude. All paths lead to the…

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