This is a personal response to the poem “Reading the Brothers Grimm To Jenny” by Lisel Mueller. I would personally recommend having read the poem beforehand, and so I have included a link to the poem.
A flame lies deep within us.
A flame born from ashes unknown. Creating a path pure of light; pure of power.
A power meant to light the world, in chaos.
A chaos meant to challenge “her soul to her shimmering hair.”
A challenge, while fighting, sustains a “golden key.”
A key unlocking the doors of your “imagined throne.”
Just lives must be made out of her unjust hairs. Our flames must lick her hair- challenge her strength-and mark the beginning of a battle that will last ’til our final breath.
A battle worth the fight,
a win difficult to attain.
For the battlefield is within our own mind; doubt, fear, hope, and faith, roam the fields of our conscience like ghosts–haunting us.
Taunting us; drugging us; weakening us; ’till we give in…
if we give in.
Our mind creates multiple mechanisms–fear, doubt, hate, jealousy– of defense, in order to fend off the shadows of reality.But these very “mechanisms” are used as weapons by the oppressor (reality)–referred to as her–in an effort to destroy our innocence. Ironically, we are the very creators of these emotions, yet they are used against us in our attempt to bend reality to our liking; bend it so that it is in accordance with our imagination–fantasies derived from our innocence.
This need to bend reality is our “challenge.” Ideally, however, winning this so called “challenge” is done by maintaining the “golden key,” shaped by one’s innocence, throughout life. Allowing it to unlock the doors that hold secrets, or perhaps success. Doors that seem worn down, broken, defeated. Doors that hold your past, or your potential. Doors that leave you breathless, craving more, and more, and more…
This key originates from a “flame” within us, as it is innocence itself. When children realize, however, that some no longer have this key, they tighten their grip on it. One might argue that the very act of preserving this “golden key” serves to strip one of a fraction of their innocence, in the least, as the desire to preserve it becomes a sacred task of sorts. Once its potential is known it is no longer the knight in shining armor that ran rampant across the battlefield, but rather a young boy that is kept under lock and key. Our innocence takes on a tint of fragility, as we fear its loss. We fear being utterly submerged into a gray sea that may drown us. This “key” is our savior; this innocence in the face of reality, our “challenge”; and this mind, our battle zone. This battle must be remembered, and the only way for it to be so, is by breathing life into our “imagined throne;” by using our key to unlock the doors of reality that coincide most with what we once imagined.
We must sculpt a key hole within our hearts, fitting our “golden key” right inside, so that when the time comes all we have to do is turn the key. We might forget, however; we might misplace our key, allowing cobwebs to form between the space created by our key whole, and lose sight of who we’re against–what we’re against. Life can manipulate us, it can hypnotize us, it can send us running off a cliff…
But we must take the risk. We must not give in. For if we do, our “golden key” will turn a shade of murky gray, blending into reality to the degree that we no longer know the difference.
Let me tell you a secret:
Life is patient. Life is cruel. But one thing that we often fail to consider is that Life is dead. It has no emotion. It feels no pain. That is why the battle begins and ends within our very mind, for life is what we make it out to be. Life can have ugly claws; it can have fangs, venom, whatever it is that most vexes you. Nevertheless, do not forget that the little boy must not be slain at the hand of Life itself. He may bruise, break down, but not give in. No, never give in.
He will never give in.