I titled my blog “saved by words” because I really do feel that at certain points in my life I was rescued by either things I read or things I heard. In the case of my first year in college, it was a combination of both. I registered for English 150, a survey of American poetry my first semester. It was the only elective I had, since the other three courses(we only took four at a time) were general required surveys in humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. A girl from my floor walked to the same class and we became fast friends. She remained my friend for many years.
My first experience in a large lecture hall with over a hundred students startled me. Somehow I knew so little about the university that I didn’t even realize that most of my courses would be large lecture based! But Albert Gelpi gave well constructed, fascinating talks and I was riveted.
The course began with Anne Bradstreet, a Boston Puritan writer. Her poem on the burning of her house was easy to understand. It was Gelpi’s discussion of it that grabbed my attention. He pointed out that on its surface the poem spoke of not being attached to wordly things, but in its execution it clearly lamented their loss. The idea that she could tell the truth but “tell it slant”(from Dickinson who we also studied) was exciting. I began to read more deeply and with more satisfaction.
Koestler may have put me off, but my American poetry class assured me that I was in the right place. It had “saved me.”