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Reading: "the very word is like a bell/that tolls me back from thee to my sole self." Actually, Keats wrote "Forlorn," but where I wrote "Reading" on the first line of this clean yellow sheet, the rest of Keats' line came unbidden, and since I'm not by nature one to ignore the unbidden, I thought I'd better write it down. Now, why did it come? Well, I'll go with ''words like bells" -and I can think of all kinds of bells: reading's a school hell-as in "I've got to get the reading done" or in "That was a great book we read in class"; it's an alarm, a wake-up call; it's a telephone bell, a door bell, some guest come calling, invited or not; it's a chapel bell, something holy happening, something that engages us full-length, then pulls us beyond supposition. For Keats, forlorn was a funeral bell, tolling to him; for me reading's something I need to do to keep from some kinds of dying. I suspect that's so for you, too.

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