What I find deeply disconcerting about science is its will to reduce everything it touches into the realm of knowledge — i.e. utilitarian — thus dispelling existence of every shade of mystery. In such an atmosphere that is deeply antagonistic to poetry I find myself suffocating and unable to tolerate life. The good news is that this endeavour of science is futile, in that it is impossible to reduce everything into the realm of knowledge; the unknown remains, and the shade of mystery cannot be dispelled; poetry cannot be vanquished. The bad news is that science may well destroy life and the world before coming to this conclusion and admitting its childish aspirations. The link between poetry, mystery, and ecology is unmistakable. It is what we hope will one day bring science to its senses, making it aware of its own limitations. Hopefully that day won’t be too long in the future.
All poets are fools; they love the world more than it deserves to be loved, and when it hurts them they bless it. All poets are fools; they inscribe their holy verse in a woman’s body, and turn her into mist and light. All poets are fools; they are meant to suffer, and enter a place of light. All poets are fools, they bless what hurts them, and love with a passion that rivals the sun. All poets are fools; blessed are the poets.
Poets love intensely because they invent their love long before they live it. Their lover is an active fire that brews in the marrow of their soul. Their carnality is an animal ferocity softened, spiritualized and intensified by their imagination and longing. Poets are the animals of the soul.
What is a poet?—a poem that plays hide and seek with itself; a poem that needs long walks in the sun and rain for it to find itself; a poem that takes a great deal of time to decipher the light in its darkness; a poem that is wasteful with much of its life for it to experience a few precious moments; a poem akin to an open wound, aching and pouring. A poet is a man without a face, standing in the crowd, in his heart feeling and recording everything. A poet is a sky buried in a man, filled with endless distances. A poet is a failed attempt. A poet is an unreachable man. A poet is not ink but life made invisible. A poet is no one. A poet is.
A little poetic sensibility is enough for you to know that you do not inhabit the same world as that of men. They pass you by as if they were holograms projected from another dimension, barely aware of their immediate surroundings and the intricacy that holds everything together, sways and moves everything to the same rhythm; they pass you by as if they were humans that never completely materialized, remaining half-ghosts, not really aware of the currents and tides of their own bodies, and how these merge with and echo the infinite beauty and chaos of the world outside. A little poetic sensibility goes a long way. You open your eyes, and realize you’ve been blind. You hear, feel, smell and touch as if for the first time. The world is alive. The world, as it is, is spirit, is art, it is poetry.
To see a World in a Grain of SandWilliam Blake
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
A poet is one who feels and intuits the infinite in the finite, and this from the deepest elevations of his spirit and soul.
Poets and people in whom the spirit is rich and abundant face the danger of feeling excluded and guilty on account of that which makes them rich and unique — because it also excludes them from the company of people and society, and makes the space around them so great that very few could hope or want to traverse it. Learning the usual social skills is doubly more difficult for such people, because, at first sight, it feels for them as though it is a betrayal of the spirit in them, of their uniqueness and idiosyncrasy. But that is necessary if they hope one day to become more than just poets and spiritually rich people — human beings who are full of light and mastery, conquerors of the inner realms and of their lives, a light unto humanity, and also, simply, genuinely and deeply happy people, people whose ability for joy and fulfillment is so much greater than their normal kin could ever fathom or understand.
My first poetic awakenings came with a re-appropriation of language as the creative vehicle to re-imagine the world. Language, which was dead, had to be revivified. Isolated in a world in which language had lost contact with nature and the non-human space; isolated in a world in which the human intellect and mode of appropriation of reality purged the latter of any extra-human symbols, reducing the whole world and reality to a set of objects manageable and subservient to human and economic ends; isolated in a world where humanity’s triumphant modern moment, the zenith of history, was nonetheless a cover that masked the deep chaos and anxiety moving at its heart; language presented itself to me, a mere word, embraced imaginatively, was enough to reawaken a world overshadowed and forsaken by mankind, was enough to lift me out of my isolation and back into a conversation with nature and the earth in all its elements, that world which we have reduced to mere economic resources. The poem, in its simple, unmovable presence, was a simple but fateful nudge that moved the internal ocean in me.
The poet’s ideal is the very reason for his suffering — he is unable to attain it in his life; oh, but what beauty, in its pursuit, does he make!
We are creating for ourselves a world in which it is impossible to live; and even if life was still physically possible, it would be undesirable.
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Once it is over we’ll discover it — modernity was a big lie. Modernity — an incredibly rich soil that nonetheless did not allow the growth of anything great.
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Thirty six; the year I discovered the truth about myself.
You will not be a stoic unless you favor your strength of will over the passion of your heart.
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Even us poets feel uncomfortable with harboring a poetic vision of the world. That has become a taboo nowadays, something irrational that requires psychotherapy. The secular, the mathematical, the economic — these are the permitted worldviews, all falling under the arch of Science. But one day it will dawn on mankind that there is something of the poetic in science too; that it, too, is a sort of mythology; that it, too, as the poetic, takes a root in unreason, but that it deceives itself precisely on this point, that is, at the point where it prides itself most.
My approach to poetry has always been intuitive, and it is this intuition that lead me to truths that clashed directly with what an intellectual or philosophic grasp on the world might propose. Poetry draws from the source, and philosophy, regarding that, was, rightly, cynical. Which lead me to an impasse — I could no longer surrender to poetry and its source, and yet when I attempted to subjugate myself to the lessons and outlook of philosophy it felt like I was suppressing a huge and essential part of my own self, a part without which I couldn’t be myself. This struggle ate away at a good decade of my life, diminishing the best of what I could offer, philosophically and poetically — I was diminished and weakened in both areas. This struggle is so essential to my identity and to my well being. I’m not sure how to proceed, except to say that an either/or approach to the matter is not in the least fruitful, and that the repression of poetry even at the risk of being “dogmatic” to the rational side in me is also no longer possible. Maybe what is required is a leap of faith, one that does not deny reason and philosophy, but that comes from a deeper place in the heart, a place unconcerned with appealing or being granted the approval of philosophy and reason. This while retaining philosophy and reason as essential tools with which to handle the self in its relation to the world.
As a poet you cannot wait for your intellect to allow your surrender into your poetic flow and its intuition — the intellect will never allow it, for it is its very nature to remain skeptic and, hence, to hold you back; a leap must be made, and the intellect, humbled.
The discipline of the flower is opening up to the light. That is my discipline too, as a poet, a lover, and a man. Man is conscious depth; his discipline is opening and giving his life direction through the sea of light.
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There is a friend to whom you come closer even when you go into a different or even an opposite direction. Such friendship, what is its touchstone: a mutual commitment to the growth of the heart.
* * *
We do not simply stumble upon new books; they stumble upon us and call us out too. It is a meeting, and the space of the meeting (depending on its depth) spills out back and forth throughout our life, reshaping, transforming, metamorphosing, down into the cradle of our birth and up into the darkness of our tomb.
* * *
The poet, today, is an outcast destined to live in the shadow of a socially unjustifiable existence. The intellectual atmosphere of his time renders him mistrustful even towards the sacred fountain of his inspiration. And so he finds himself in the peculiar position where he cannot turn away from poetry nor completely give in and surrender to it — he does not believe in his own existence. He suffers, and his suffering is incommunicable. He suffers in silence. Yet this silence and suffering are preparing something in him too; even now, something is rising out of him. This intuition alone makes his existence bearable, and fills him with the awe of being a poet. He will go unseen like a flower on the wind. But poetry, her, the midwife of the heart, has already taken something out of him and planted in the garden of eternity. He will go unseen, but the poem shall survive.
With the poem the poets barter their way into eternity, and that is all the poets have ever done, consciously or not. But then again, eternity is the intuition for which the poem is the medium and conductor, the activity through which eternity expands inside the poet’s heart. So a moment comes where every poet wonders if the poem is in fact more than a poem, a poetry that goes beyond poetry and overflows into life, under and inside the very marrow of life. The poet intuits eternity as a force of life, or, rather, life as an expression of eternity. The poet, then, driven as if by instinct, wants his life lived in harmony with the eternal, as he begins to experience the true opening of the heart. His relationship with life or what life is for him must now come from his openness to eternity, from his intuition of the absolute. He wants to live the eternal as he relates to life. He glorifies being inasmuch as he feels that that is a state of flowering inside the eternal; being, for him, is a state of absolute openness, of total transparency and a life taken over by the eternal. So the images come of the moth and the flame, of the whirling dervish, the ocean, and the boundless sky, and underneath it all, the silence of God, the eternal.
What is a poet?—a being who knows the secret name of the sun but cannot give it in its entirety to the world. As a result he suffers, and his suffering is baptized as poetry.
The sorrow, greatness, and foolishness of the poet — the compulsion of his instinct that wills him to unify the poetic and the amorous acts; intimately, poetically, amorously, he is dumb otherwise.
What are you searching for?
For a reason, for a way to believe,
For a ruse to trick reason
And reach the realm of faith and certainty
While remaining under his good grace.
What are you willing to pay?
I am willing to sacrifice reason itself,
Only reason and my sense of honesty
Do not allow this weakness and betrayal to prevail,
So I remain caught in the middle,
Cut in half in no man’s land,
And as a result I feel myself
Poor, impoverished, and lacking a center,
As if empty or hollow,
Glancing back and unable to go back,
Looking high but unable to fly upwards,
So I pay my life and time as a result
And linger begging for a crumb of bread,
I whose inheritance and right
Is the banquet of heaven itself.
Love is this — that through the beloved the lover expects his world unified and affirmed. For a poet this means — through the lover the world is given back as poetry, with her being the medium and end, the root and the flower. Bless the selfishness of lovers, and the poets’ love of lovers and of poetry.
A poet is always writing, a painter always painting, a thinker always reflecting — even when carried by life and its humbug, even in the midst of acts so unlike their silent moments of creativity. Let a poet stay a hundred years (so to speak) without writing — in the end he is not diminished; in the end he is still caught in the eternal act of writing. Poetry is his mistress, his love, and he the hungry bee drowned to death in the cruel and burning sweetness of her honey.