“Only connect.” This is the infamous epigraph to E.M. Forster’s Howards End, and a statement that felt at once strangely enigmatic yet deeply profound when I first read the book in my early twenties. There’s something about that injunction that ricocheted off the insides of my mind, that stuck with me like the most powerful lines of poetry, long after the poem as a whole (or the novel) might have passed.
And like certain lines of poetry it changed meaning inside me with the passage of years; or we changed together. One day I realized I understood something about it that I hadn’t before, about what the connection was that Forster was speaking of. I realized too that, like poetry, the meaning telescoped as I tried to look into it, so that what was true in its immediacy on the page was only a small part of the truth or the meaning of it. The more I grew, the more it grew.
Only connect: the passion and the prose, the animal and the ascetic, the disparate fragments of self that if brought together could each be exalted. A unified contradiction. And more connections (and failures to connect) abound throughout the novel: connections to the past and mistakes and shared histories; to the circumstances and struggles of others; to home and family and lovers and secrets and dreams. To the mind and the heart and the body, and all their desperate urges.
To write anything is an attempt at connection; to write poetry most of all. Why would one bother otherwise? Writing a poem can connect you to things inside yourself of which you were unaware; while sharing a poem is a conscious begetting of connection with others, with no limit in space or time. That’s a pretty incredible payback for the effort required to revise a few lines on a quiet night.
And so here we are. Here I am, at the shore of this new blog, ready to launch my paper boats onto the ink dark sea, and hope they find you. Only connect.