“Had we but world enough and time,”*

*opening line of To His Coy Mistress” by ANDREW MARVELL (published posthumously in 1681).

From: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (2011), by Jeanette Winterson:

“The Accrington Public Library had a copy of most things. It had a copy of Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1932).

When I was sixteen I had only got as far as M – not counting Shakespeare, who is not part of the alphabet, any more than black is a colour. Black is all the colours and Shakespeare is all the alphabet. I was reading his plays and sonnets the way that you get dressed every morning. You don’t ask yourself, ‘Shall I get dressed today?’ (On the days you don’t get dressed you are not well enough, either mentally or physically, to be able to ask – but we will go there later.)

M was the seventeenth-century poet, Andrew Marvell. After my encounter with T.S. Eliot on the library steps, I had decided to add poetry to the reading list. Poetry is easier to learn than prose. Once you have learned it you can use it as a light and a laser. It shows up your true situation and it helps you cut through it.”

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