Inspiration and the sweetness of poetry

Poetry, we’ve been taught, can open the innermost valve of the imagining heart through stirring and murmuring the delicately woven allure of words.

There are no barriers to the inner intimacies that poetry is capable of displaying. It celebrates, as well as mourns; it can bubble or froth, seriously praise or quietly exult, as well as weep.

Could anything be more intense, more personal and more profoundly moving than their fragments without barriers?  We learned through the years that poet boundaries are man’s boundaries — neither more nor less — of different people living in a different time and culture, employing a different language, a different technique, as they write different poems.

These souls, in this noise-tired timer that turn aside into unfrequented lanes, have harbored the fragrance of many a blossoming season — filtering into perfect forms and arranging itself in lonely patterns, for those who perceive beauty.

We can argue that Shakespeare was the greatest poet that the world has ever seen — in any language and in any period — yet, we cannot use Shakespeare as the standard in learning to read and appreciate the poetry of different times, places and languages. We should respect the differences in approach and its ultimate meaning: to make poetry readily comprehensible to any human being anywhere.

The joy, as well as the art of reading a poem as it is meant to be read, is to learn to accept what the poet has given. There is much more to reading a poem, as there is more to learning how to hear a Beethoven quartet or how to really see a painting by Rembrandt or Picasso.

Inspiration

A great number of serious men and women associate writers and artists of every sort with what we call inspirations (on the grounds of science, empiricism and predictability.)

These are men from a different school of thought, who value stability over spontaneity or responsibility over elation. They are men who assert that something there is the inspiration which hints of wildness…beyond the knowing. That which brings resolution without warning, that deprives them, used to feeling an at-homeness in their minds.

They said inspiration is an intruder — a kidnapper of reason, a burglar who shoots the watchdog dead, who chases off sentries and censors and monitors.

Inspirations, they say, instigate cliff-walking: it sweeps its quarry to the edge of unfamiliar abysses. Inspiration is that secret sharer who flees out of pandemonium. But isn’t inspiration the poetry-making faculty itself? Isn’t it, in fact, a truism to equate poetry and inspiration?

To hear it from Emerson, inspiration is potent and ubiquitous. They are in the beasts in the brooks, in the muttering oaks — where poetry is born. The majestic Zeus himself got his start as a god, who spoke out of the oak tree.

Syllables of elegance and refinement from the Greeks, themselves are said to have turned the full sweetness of poetry.

Greek drama, Greek poetry and Greek speculation. Beyond all these Greeks is the mind of science, the mind of poetry art; of the Greeks W.H Arden reminds us: “who have taught us, not to think, that all human beings have always done- but to think about our thinking”

Its mythology and glory that was Greece was an inspiration. Aren’t myths the greatest inspirations of all? And most blatant, each god represents an aspect of human passion — humanly resplendent, here is beauty and lust. Here is wisdom, chance, courage, mendacity and war. Isn’t that inspirational enough for poets?

Some poets observed through that there is not a god nor goodness which stands for the still small voice of conscience. Scholars remember that to this day. Inspiration is ad hoc and has no history. But through it, the past has the capacity to imagine use.

The reason they say in plain is that inspiration has no memory. Inspiration is spontaneity. By turning their religious life into poetry, the Greeks have been universalized.

Inspiration in poetry — which is sudden and as transient as an electrical trajectory — takes a long time to delineate because latency (a hidden prior knowledge) and unintelligibility (the mysterious grace that surpasses understanding), are said to be in its nature. It is in the nature of inspiration to be succinct. It has given birth and tongue, even to saints and prophets, early and late.

Inspirations belongs to everyone. That is the point of its having been dreamed into existence at all. Without the inspiration of memory and history, we cannot imagine the life of the other. We cannot imagine what it is to be someone else. Inspiration is the reciprocal agent, the universalizing force.

It makes it possible to envision the stranger’s heart. Here is to inspiration in poetry!

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