Poetry must resist the intelligence almost successfully.Wallace Stevens “Adagia”
I don’t know what I think about poetry.
But I like that I don’t know what I think about poetry.
Like, if you think about reality with a definite answer for what it is, how it works, or anything to do with its origins and destinations then you will only meet your reality by means of those constraints.
We think about light as if it only appears in beams that shimmer in dusty afternoon windows. We act like light is possessed solely by what the sun lays its light upon.
We are made of light, frozen packets of it. We don’t require the sun or dust to exist. There is probably life that exists without light as we know, and all the while we shimmer across dimensions other than space & time.
Poems aren’t just light beams. Poems are more than tiny packets of light.
People talk about the feeling that comes with poetry. I dig that. It is ambiguous, amorphous, open ended. There is definitely an indefinite feeling one gets when reading good poetry.
Just the other day, reading Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” (of course), I felt that rather indiscernible, but absolutely something feeling. I knew, in reading his poems, that I was living in an existence of more than light.
I think poetry takes us beyond any sort of sense, beyond anything we know.
For that reason, I also think words are often failures, keeping us bidden to definite associations and metaphors of absolute rule, but that’s another story.
Prosody aside, I think poetry will always be the indefatigably undefinable art. It will always redesign itself to suit what is other in a culture. It will disregard what it is supposed to be for the sake of being what it needs to be.
Out of curiosity, what do you think poetry is?