Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still knows bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way — an honorable way — in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.”
Man’s Search for Meaning
But today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love.
A MIND THAT is lively and inquiring, compassionate, curious, angry, full of music, full of feeling, is a mind full of possible poetry. Poetry is a life-cherishing force. And it requires a vision—a faith, to use an old-fashioned term. Yes, indeed. For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry. Yes, indeed.
I SUPPOSE WHAT MOST people associate with poetry is souls searching for fiercely felt emotions. We expect the poet to be a monger of intensity, to pain for us, to reach into the campfire so that we can linger in the woods and watch without burning ourselves or grubbying our clothes. Then, even if we don’t feel the fire, we can see the poet’s face illuminated by light, hear her flushed chatter, the blazing wood crackle, and imagine well enough what the fire feels like from our safe remove. Though we can’t live at red alert from day-to-day, we expect the poet to, on our behalf, and to share that intensity with us when we’re in the right mood. And if we become frightened or bored, we can simply put the poem back on the shelf. Really, we are asking the poet to live an extravagantly emotional life for us, so we
can add her experiences to our own. Because poets feel what we are afraid to feel, venture where we are reluctant to go, we learn from their journeys without taking the same dramatic risks. We cherish the insights that the poets discover: we’d love to relish the moment and feel the rampant amazement as the seasons unfold. We yearn to explore the subtleties, paradoxes and edges of emotions. We long to see the human condition reveal itself with spellbinding clarity. Think of all the lessons to be learned from deep rapture, danger, tumult, romance, intuition. But it’s far too exhausting to live like this on a daily basis, so we ask artists to feel and explore on our behalf. Daring to take intellectual and emotional chances, poets live on their senses.
IN THE HOUSE OF POETRY, nothing remains except that which is written with blood to be listened to by blood.
Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
Nathan Wheeler Photography (Thank You!)