Elizabeth Smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept

smart-grand-central“Perhaps I am his hope. But then she is his present. And if she is his present, I am not his present.
Therefore, I am not, and I wonder why no-one has noticed I am dead and taken the trouble to bury me.
For I am utterly collapsed. I lounge with glazed eyes, or weep tears of sheer weakness.

“All people seem criminally irrelevant. I ignore everyone and everything, and, if crossed or interrupted
in my decay, hate. Nature is only the irking weather and flowers crude reminders of stale states of being.”

Elizabeth Smart, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept

Elizabeth Smart has been an enigma for readers and critics alikebut once you have dipped into her work, you will find her words crawl beneath your skin, reaching those spaces of loss and love that shape our humanity.  In our study, we will read aloud parts of her work and consider its experimental form and controversial content. Does literature that examines the wounds and torments of love with the same sensuous approach that golden romances employ show us something more than those softer works?

“Under the redwood tree my grave was laid, and I beguiled my true love to lie down. The stream of our kiss put a waterway around the world, where love like a refugee sailed in the last ship. My hair made a shroud, and kept the coyotes at bay while we wrote our cyphers with anatomy. The winds boomed triumph, our spines seemed overburdened, and our bones groaned like old trees, but a smile like a cobweb was fastened across the mouth of the cave of fate.

“Fear will be a terrible fox at my vitals under my tunic of behaviour.

“Oh, canary, sing out in the thunderstorm, prove your yellow pride. Give me a reason for courage or a way to be brave. But nothing tangible comes to rescue my besieged sanity, and I cannot decipher the code of the eucalyptus thumping on my roof.

“I am unnerved by the opponents of God, and God is out of earshot. I must spin good ghosts out of my hope to oppose the hordes at my window. If those who look in see me condescend to barricade the door, they will know too much and crowd in to overcome me.

“The parchment philosopher has no traffic with the night, and no conception of the price of love. With smoky circles of thought he tries to combat the fog, and with anagrams to defeat anatomy. I posture in vain with his weapons, even though I am balmed with his nicotine herbs.

Moon, moon, rise in the sky to be a reminder of comfort and the hour when I was brave.”

― Elizabeth Smart, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept


  • Two meeting study
  • Recommended edition: By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, by Elizabeth Smart, forward by Brigid Brophy; Flamingo/Harper Collins edition (1992); ISBN-: 978-0586090398

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Posted on

January 14, 2018