This bequest of wings

Quai d'Orléans Paris -- Photo courtesy of Moonik (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Quai d’Orléans Paris — Photo by Moonik (CC BY-SA 3.0)

“He ate and drank the precious words,
His spirit grew robust;
He knew no more that he was poor,
Nor that his frame was dust.
He danced along the dingy days,
And this bequest of wings
Was but a book. What liberty
A loosened spirit brings!”
Emily Dickinson

If you are reading this blog, it means you have at least one precious gift: literacy.  We tend to take it for granted, but throughout history, there have been eras where literacy belonged only to select groups.  Even today, there are still many people all over the world who are unable to read freely due to inadequate education, mental or physical disability, political oppression, lack of accessible reading material, or other obstacles to learning.

Today, whatever your circumstances or difficulties, I encourage you to celebrate your ability to read.  Take a few minutes to read something inspiring and set your spirit free from whatever is troubling it.  If you are able to do so, you can spread the gift of literacy by supporting your public library, volunteering with local tutoring programs, or simply by sharing the joy of reading with someone else in need of encouragement.

Although Dickinson chose a cloistered life, her poetry is a testimony to the freedom reading can bring into the life of even the most isolated among us.  I hope this bequest of wings will enable you to fly today!

One year ago today:

A garden and a library

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Judy from Pennsylvania

    The stairway leads away from the hustle and bustle of the street and it goes down to the calm of a riverbank. The man (could it be Jeff?!) is enjoying some time by the water to do some reading and soak up a bit of sunshine. It looks like he’s taking a quiet time away from the rest of whatever was going on in his day. Your photo captures a whole little story!

    I like that he’s reading from paper pages rather than on an electronic device. Maybe I’m hopelessly old fashioned, but it seems to me that reading things on paper helps focus the mind more than reading them on a screen. You have to engage physically with paper pages, actually touching and turning them with your hands. Sometimes you even smell the print or the scent of old paper and binding. And you can’t decide to flit from one topic to another with the swipe of a finger. You’re committed to that one thing that you’re reading.

    Yet here I am, reading things on my computer this morning. We even get our newspapers on the computer now. And how else would I have discovered your wonderful blog!

    But for me anyway, an actual book needs to be read in paper form. I can’t enjoy electronic books at all. I want to engage with the physicality of the book. If it belongs to me, sometimes I dog-ear the pages, underline things and write in the margins. I enjoy the weight of it, the graphics and art on the cover, and the way I can quickly find things I want to revisit among the pages.

    Your post reminds me of how precious it is to be able to read, no matter what form the words are presented in. For sure, it’s changed my life. God bless all those teachers who have taught me how to read, and God bless all those writers who have passed on their knowledge or given wings to my imagination. What would my life be without them?

    • Judy, many of us who love books (and more than a few research studies) agree with you that print books have many advantages lost in digital format. I value all the many formats, and would guess that at least 90% of my reading is now done via unbridged audiobooks that I listen to while walking, cooking, cleaning and other mindless tasks. Still, there is nothing like a good old-fashioned print book. I appreciate the way you pointed out the interactive nature of what can be done with a print book. While digital formats also allow notes, highlighting etc., to me it’s not as immediate and accessible on future readings as when I have notes tucked away inside (I don’t generally write in books, except maybe in pencil). Also, if it’s a nonfiction book, I like to put newspaper clippings that add relevant details to the ongoing story. I cannot imagine my life, past or present, without the blessing of literacy!

Thanks for encouraging others by sharing your thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: