Corners are lonely things. They sit quietly at the intersection of two walls, belonging to the room yet not quite partaking in the fullness of its space—situated, as it were, both inside and out. When you enter into a house, you don't sigh over the loveliness of a dusted corner; you pass over it as one steps over a rug, an open flap seen only in transition, its silent angles a demarcation of circumscribed space.
Yet for all their discretion, corners are filled with possibility. To dreamers who know how to make use of their silence, they offer up their walls like a pair of outstretched hands, ready to launch the solitary wanderer into the somersaults of her imagination. Gaston Bachelard, in his book, The Poetics of Space, dedicates a whole chapter to corners in an exploration of intimate space: "Every corner in a house, every angle in a room, every inch of secluded space in which we like to hide, or withdraw into ourselves, is a symbol of solitude for the imagination; that is to say, it is the germ of a room, or of a house." This idea of the corner being "the germ of a room" becomes important in thinking about the power of even the tiniest nooks and crannies in sparking up the flames of creative inspiration. One could think about daydreams as an exploitation of space—a reorientation of vision into the internal vastness of the human mind. As Emily Dickinson has said: "the brain is wider than the sky."
A corner stills the dreamer only to induce the internal movement of her soul—a condition Bachelard calls 'immobility' which he believes to be characteristic of the daydreaming man. Bachelard describes the corner as "a sort of half-box, part walls, part door"—the door being symbolic of that capacity for change, that openness in form a sensitive dreamer could then complete. Daydreaming involves the rehearsal of various worlds, a testing out of possibilities that extend—even disrupt—the two axes of space and time. Of this phenomenon, Shakespeare's famous "All the world's a stage" comes to mind; if we think about daydreams as a sequence of scenes enacted in the seclusion of the skull, then the manipulation of these two axes becomes significant for the propagation of the show. One engages, quite literally, in the manipulation of a corner—that starting point where x meets y—to experiment with the trajectory of a plot, ultimately revealing the triumph of its artistic creator.
Bachelard gives poets a special province in this endeavor: "Life in corners, and the universe itself withdrawn into a corner with the daydreamer, is a subject about which poets will have more to tell us." Thinking not only of the nature of poets but also that of poetry, one realizes that the very foundation of poems speaks to this idea of constructed space. The word "stanza," after all, indicating a grouping of lines, means 'room' in Italian. If poetry relies on a succession of rooms to generate a world into being, couldn't the poet be thought of as a type of literary architect delineating his vision through a blueprint of words? A framework of lines the reader later translates into the more abstract dimensions of his or her mind? In engaging with a poem, a reader is ushered into a vast complex of swinging doors, darting from thought to thought, phrase to phrase, until the syllables pushing her up like stepping stones fall from her feet, and she finds herself tumbling deeper and deeper into the farthest recesses of the rabbit hole. A life taken in leaps and bounds in a period of articulated space.
In the noise of everyday life, the silence offered by an unassuming corner is an invaluable present. Do not overlook it if it happens to fall in your way. The corner can be a deceptive little thing—seek it out in all its myriad of guises and manifestations. It might decide to appear on the bottom of your cup after all the tea has been drunk; do not be quick to wash it away. Peer into it and see what reflections still exist. Or perhaps you will find it curled up in the pockets of an old dress—dig into them and see what relics you can find. The sullied coins for a nine-o'clock bus, a crumpled note from an old lover—a whole life waiting in a tiny enclosure.