I Ain’t No Rock

While others adored Simon and Garfunkle’s “The Sounds of Silence,” my favorite song on the album was always “I am a Rock:”

I am a Rock

A winter’s day
In a deep and dark december;
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

Don’t talk of love,
But I’ve heard the words before;
It’s sleeping in my memory.
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

The irony, of course, is that I’m much closer to the person portrayed in this song than I’d like to be. However, knowing I am this person also makes me realize the futility of trying to hide behind poetry and books.

Stangely, while poetry that portrays the sorrow of human existence puts us in touch with a certain kind of “truth,” it also separates us from that truth and makes it possible to see it without actually feeling it. Poetry, and perhaps literature in general, is a double-edged sword, isolating us from the world while still drawing us to that world.

It’s possible to find a kind of happiness dwelling in the world of books. I find it easy to retreat to books the same way I’m drawn to playing D&D games, endlessly defeating the virtual forces of evil in adventure after adventure.

Unfortunately, when you put down the book or turn off the computer, the real world, at least the real world as portrayed by the media, is still there, threatening to overwhelm you.