It can be embarrassing, when looking, in fall or winter, back to spring. This latest sonnet, and its introduction, could have been written as late as December of 1990, but may have been written earlier.
My good friend Jon taught me a valuable thing: That how we felt is how we felt. Knowing this–internalizing it–I feel less embarrassment for my former self, and more empathy. How could that young man, bathing in pathos, have known that things would not work out as badly as he feared; that, in fact they would work out much better than he had ever the temerity to have dreamt?
We may, some of us, feel inclined to burn things written long ago–things we find embarrassing–but it is better not to. We may cringe a bit while rereading them, but others may not. They may even sometimes find solace or inspiration or even hope in those cringe inducing lines.
Although I now realize, having traveled a great way down Autodidact Ln. , that “Bathos” does not mean “being soaked to the gills in pathos,” for the longest time, that’s what I thought it meant. Sometimes our youthful writings can be Bathotic, (in the above sense, although not in the actual sense of the word, perhaps; which, strictly speaking, refers to the combination of the sublime with the banal). Such expressions are nothing of which to be ashamed. They are quite genuine–quite real. They are how a young man, or a young lady felt. Taken down faithfully. Word for word.
Interestingly enough, over the years, “My” definition of Bathos has more or less come into its own, and will sometimes be mentioned in dictionaries as def. #2 or #3. I shall have been proud if I might, in whatever small way, have contributed to this coming about. The place where the dictionary and I part ways, is upon the assumption that such expression is insincere. I believe such deep–and even when in retrospect, embarrassing–expression is almost always completely sincere, particularly from our younger selves, or from our younger kin, younger friends or younger loved ones.
So go ahead and bathe in pathos! Just promise not to burn what you wrote when you happen upon it forty years later!!