By candlelight

Friday, 16 August 2013

woman reading by candlelight

It’s been particularly stormy outside in the last couple of days, which makes me want to retreat indoors. This may explain why I’m drawn right now to imagery of candlelight. The sense of intimacy that’s created through candlelight is something that I find comforting. Because the light source is so intimate and localised, it creates this insular atmosphere; it creates an interior world where you feel cocooned. Candlelight seems to highlight the dark, as much as it may provide light within it. I love this, because it creates a feeling of closing-in on yourself.

This made me think of the poem ‘Candles’ by Sylvia Plath. Although I don’t approach it as a ‘comforting’ poem, I do love its imagery, which speaks of the imagery I’m drawn to right now:

By Sylvia Plath

They are the last romantics, these candles:
Upside down hearts of light tipping wax fingers,
And the fingers, taken in by their own haloes,
Grown milky, almost clear, like the bodies of saints.
It is touching, the way they’ll ignore

A whole family of prominent objects
Simply to plumb the deeps of an eye
In its hollow of shadows, its fringe of reeds,
And the owner past thirty, no beauty at all.
Daylight would be more judicious,

Giving everybody a fair hearing.
They should have gone out with the balloon flights and the stereopticon.
This is no time for the private point of view.
When I light them, my nostrils prickle.
Their pale, tentative yellows

Drag up false, Edwardian sentiments,
And I remember my maternal grandmother from Vienna.
As a schoolgirl she gave roses to Franz Josef.
The burghers sweated and wept. The children wore white.
And my grandfather moped in the Tyrol,

Imagining himself a headwaiter in America,
Floating in a high-church hush
Among ice buckets, frosty napkins.
These little globes of light are sweet as pears.
Kindly with invalids and mawkish women,

They mollify the bald moon.
Nun-souled, they burn heavenward and never marry.
The eyes of the child I nurse are scarcely open.
In twenty years I shall be retrograde
As these draughty ephemerids.

I watch their spilt tears cloud and dull to pearls.
How shall I tell anything at all
To this infant still in a birth-drowse?
Tonight, like a shawl, the mild light enfolds her,
The shadows stoop over like guests at a christening.

Speaking of closing-in on myself, I’ve deleted my pinterest and tumblr accounts, because I hardly use them anymore. And not to be overly dramatic, but I feel anxious every time I visit pinterest and tumblr now – all those images and content to consume at once kind of gives me a headache. I think I need to be more selective about how I consume things online. So this blog, twitter and facebook are enough for now. Time to stop feeling pointlessly anxious about things I can control. I think I felt like I ‘had’ to maintain all these accounts in case I’d be missing out on something if I don’t have them, and it feels great to delete and say, ‘no’. Jane articulates this much better than me.

I’ve also been helping my mum work on her professional Facebook page, and I would really appreciate it if people liked it and spread the word about it. I think she’s pretty wonderful, my mum. And just a quick thank you to a few bloggy friends who have offered much kindness and support lately, in ways that are not obvious on my blog. I often feel I don’t say thank you enough, so this is my small gesture: Thank you Erica, Danielle, Acacia and Nancy. You know what for.

Image credit: Woman Reading by Candlelight (1908) by Peter Ilsted.


Rambling Tart said...

I think your Mum is lovely too - her work is beautiful and she has such a loving face. :-) Candlelight is peaceful for me, centering somehow, blocking out the excess and focusing on the essential. Love this image. :-)

Hila said...

Oh that is the sweetest comment ever, and my mum is the best :)

querido diário said...

i often close all the lights in the house and light some candles in the terrace,sit down on the sofa and look at the dark sky.
I love contemplation,makes me feel so free...
Online visual super information can be really an anxiety machine,i try not to forget it's me controlling it*

rooth said...

Isn't social networking just SO anxiety inducing? I stayed away from it for the better part of a year before my relatives dragged me back into it this last week. I wish you better luck than I've had

Maša Nikolov said...

she's wonderful indeed! :) I feel you on Pinterest and other social profiles, I've also started to delete the ones I rarely use. I never check the Pinterest feed (it's just too much), but I'm probably gonna keep it cause I like it for totally personal purposes. :)

I LOVE stormy weather btw! The picture you've chosen is so beautiful.

Hila said...

querido diário: I try not to forget that too, but honestly, sometimes I get too caught up in everything I'm 'supposed' to do.

rooth: I got sucked back into facebook by relatives in Israel. I think I'm controlling it better this time though, and keeping my friends to a manageable number. Still, if I start to feel anxious again, that's it for me ... there are just too many ways in which we can procrastinate and spread ourselves, it can be exhausting.

Masa: I think everyone has their own logic when it comes to how they use these sites :) For me, I knew that if I didn't delete Pinterest, I would end up still checking it. I prefer to delete and move on since it's not serving me any purpose.