Today’s Mary Stewart quotation is taken from her 1991 novel Stormy Petrel. The main character, Rose Fenemore, is a 27-year-old English tutor at Cambridge, a poet and a writer of science fiction. This seems to be a reworking of Mary Stewart’s own life: prior to moving to Edinburgh, she lectured in English at Durham University, composed poetry and published genre fiction. Here we have Rose’s description of writing a poem:
slowly, like a clear spring welling up from the common earth, the poem rose and spread and filled me, unstoppable as flood water, technique unknotting even as it ran, like snags rolled away on the flood. When it comes, it is worth everything in the world. There is too much easy talk about ‘inspiration’, but at such times one sees it exactly for what it is, a breathing in of all experience, all apprehension of beauty, all love. As a fire needs air to make it burn, so a poem needs to be fuelled by each one of these. And the greatest of these is love.
Do you relate to this experience? I’m no poet, nor a writer, but it reads true to me – I have felt this at times when writing poetry, essays or even when a blog post flows just so!
I like this quote for its truth, and I am delighted by the final sentence because it displays classic intertextuality by Mary Stewart: by quoting 1 Corinthians 13:13, she adds depth and layers of inter-connection to her description. Without her writing it explicitly, there is the added suggestion of something spiritual or divine in the creative act.
What do you think about today’s quote? I’d love to know your favourite Mary Stewart quotes.