exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity
"A poem should not mean, but be." Archibald McLeish
Editor's Essay: Higher Creativity: Liberating The Unconscious For Breakthrough Insights
the office of a poet: analyzing what it means to be human, in the face of contrary public opinion
Elizabeth’s love letter to Robert, February 27, 1845
"I am delighted to hear all you say to me of … Carlyle… He fills the office of a poet … by analyzing humanity back into its elements, to the destruction of the conventions of the hour. That is – strictly speaking – the office of a poet, is it not?"
Editor’s note: Notice the qualifier: “to the destruction of the conventions of the hour.” The mystical seer, one with “open channel” from a higher order – the poet – is to proclaim what it means to be human; even though popular definitions of the day, ephemeral “conventions,” devised by cultish Dear Leaders intent upon merchandizing the hapless, will define human essence and conduct according to some self-serving scheme.
Archibald McLeish: Ars Poetica
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Who am I?
Emily Dickinson: I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died
Lord Byron: When We Two Parted
Lord Byron: She Walks In Beauty
Kelly Wynne Pavese
Elizabeth Barrett Browning: How Do I Love Thee?
Eugene H. Peterson: Galatians 5. 19-21
Tricia Cherin: Closure
Emily Dickinson: There Is A Pain -- So Utter
Marcia Lee Anderson: Diagnosis
Walter Benton: This Is My Beloved
Tom Schulman, Dead Poets Society: "We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless -- of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?; Answer: That you are here -- that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?"
Shelley: "Didactic poetry is my abhorrence."
Leslie Weatherhead: "The poet writes, not to give the world ideas or to teach lessons, but simply because he is moved by an inward compulsion which urges him to creative art. My passions raged like so many devils, writes Burns in a letter, till they got vent in rhyme... We enter into truth, perhaps, but through the door of beauty. We do not so much learn; we see... Moreover, there is something felt, of which ordinary folk are conscious, but which they cannot explain... So Arnold ... says of Byron: ... He taught us little; but our soul had felt him like the thunder's roll... If the poet can be said to have a motive, then it is aesthetic desire... [if it has a] purpose, it is to give pleasure. In some moment of poetic insight he has seen a vision of the infinite, and he craves so to express that experience that it may be shared... All poetry, said Browning, is the problem of getting the infinite into the finite."
Byron: "Poetry is the lava of the imagination whose eruption prevents the earthquake."
Augustine: "Poetry is the Devil's wine."
Leslie Weatherhead: "Keats ... says that a poet should have no opinions, no principles, no morality, no self. To be tied to these things spoils true art, which should be entirely unfettered. The poet should make a clean sweep of his personal hopes ... and beliefs. Keats was so desirous of being the consummate artist that he did not want private ideas and ethical principles to spoil his poems, as the wire support of the florist sometimes spoils the beauty of the natural curve in the stem of a flower. He wanted to present his poem just as it came to him from God... One does not so much want to learn what Browning's private opinions were. One wants to know what Browning saw in his hours of poetic vision, and one wants to see through his eyes. We should therefore be guarded in speaking of the value of the work of the poet, just as we should speak guardedly of the value of a sunset... the poet is a teacher in one sense ... but he is not the pedagogue... he exists not to inculcate ideas as a teacher, but to reveal reality."
Sigmund Freud: “Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me... Poets are masters of us ordinary men, in knowledge of the mind,
because they drink at streams which we have not yet made accessible to science.”
Jean Baptiste Henry Lacordaire: "We are the leaves of one branch, the drops of one sea, the flowers of one garden."
Charles Lamb: "The true poet dreams, being awake."
Shelley: Poetry "acts in a divine and unapprehended manner, beyond and above consciousness."
Leslie Weatherhead: [The poet] "is not sure of a truth because he has proved it [by logical argument], but because he has seen it. Indeed, in some moments of rapture he has experienced it... Aristotle, in the Poetics, believed poetry to be inspired, and to imply either a strain of madness or a happy gift of nature; and he divides poetry into the ecstatic [a "standing out" of oneself] and the euplastic [easily or commonly formed]. It is the ecstatic poet [who] requires explanation. The poet, inspired by some vivid experience, goes into a kind of trance - we think the phrase is not too strong - and thereupon sees a vision which he expresses in poetical ideas, that those who read may have that experience re-created in them... It is because of this different way of arriving at truth, we think, that the poet has so often led the way in expressing ideas which are among the most profound [and] cherished by mankind. On the wings of vision the poet soars to a pinnacle of truth... It may be that the poet's creation ... may point to some as yet unrealized desire of humanity, for which the poet, as a prophet of the race, yearns. So Shelley says ... They are the dreams of what ought to be, or may be."
Bacon: [The use of poetry] "hath been to give some shadow of satisfaction to the mind of man in those points wherein the nature of things doth deny it."
Keats: "What the imagination seizes as beauty must be truth."
Leslie Weatherhead: "Christ's authority was the inward authority of truth, and its weight lay in the people's own intuitive appreciation of truth. He did not argue, but when He spoke, something in the hearer leaped up in recognition of the truth... [in this sense the] ecstatic poet sees... Then, with Wordsworth, We see into the life of things."
Leslie Weatherhead: "Men discount the dreamer as they discount their own dreams. They call him mad. He is mad, in a sense, as the lover is mad, who also makes his choice and arrives at conclusions, not by conscious argument, but by intuitions which, possibly, well up from the unconscious. But his dreams, his visionary thoughts, are the source of all poetry, and make poets, as Shelley said: ...the hierophants [ancient priests whose duty it was to reveal mysteries] of an unapprehended inspiration; the mirrors of the gigantic shadows futurity casts upon the present; the words which express what they understand not; the trumpets which sing to battle and feel not what they inspire; the influence which is moved not, but moves. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world."
George Harrison: "Sunrise doesn't last all morning, a cloudburst doesn't last all day, seems my love is up and has left you with no warning. It's not always going to be this grey. All things must pass, all things must pass away."
Patience Worth, Knowing Thee: "Beloved, I might not hope - had I not heard thy pledge! Nor could I have believed, save that I had believed in thee! I could not believe that I might comprehend eternity, save that I had known thy limitless love! Surely, thou art the symbol of my New Day - wherein I might read the record of my eternity!"