"What do you write about?" I'm often asked. The answer, um, is I, uh, write about myself, which automatically puts me in the company of Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, and others who exude the belief that their lives are of inherent interest to others.
The poet Ellen Bass writes as a human being who shudders with the immensity, the worry, the love of being alive. She writes to connect with other human beings who shudder in their own way but may not have the words to say so.
Grieving openly serves the important function of assuring ourselves and others that it is normal, and temporary, and part of a full and authentic life. Only suppressed grief threatens one's mental health.
What makes this story timeless? While some are convinced Carroll's story was political, the deeper dimension has to do with identity crisis, something our ancestors faced before each developmental leap.