Looking for solace
Solace, for me, is different than comfort. Comfort is soft sweats, hot chocolate, a kind of ease. Solace is deeper. A need when there is pain. An emotional response, more than a physical one. It’s not a hard and fast distinction for me – in fact, in casual conversation, I’m probably more likely to say “I took a lot of comfort in that.” Still, when I’m really thinking about the difference in feeling, and in meaning, that’s how it falls out for me.
I’ve needed solace, recently.
One of the pieces of art I’ve gone back to time and time again when I’ve been in need of solace is Theodore Roethke’s “The Waking.” Some of that is because it feels to me like a companionable poem. There is not only the presence of the poetic I but the poetic we. “We think by feeling” “but who can tell us how?” (emphasis mine). Not even just the feeling that the poet is speaking to someone, but that the poet is speaking with someone. A conversation, not a lecture. A closeness.
But mostly, it’s the opening couplet of the final stanza:
This shaking keeps me steady. I should know. What falls away is always. And is near.
Two different kinds of solace, one in each line.