Friday, June 6, 2014

poetry as a painkiller

what's wrong with this picture?
i had to sleep on it to figure it out. i'd watched a video on "Why We Need Poetry". guess i was skeptical from the first. people don't need poetry, especially lyrical poetry, or personal confession, the type most prevalent in our age. they need food, shelter, lots of things except ethereal ramblings of deranged minds. 

of course, i'm playing the devil's advocate. poetry can't sell you anything, otherwise it's advertising, for a product, a person's point of view, say for or against a war, or clean water. the effect of what i would call 'the true poem', the one without purpose, useless, that's the one i'd recommend.

often in the lookout, if i wake with insomnia, i find the poet the best person to enable me to return to dream thought, the escape from time. the speaker in the video emphasized the genre as time-travel. that's where he got it all wrong. like being in love, a poem instills the  feeling we're immortal, better to love than be loved, the wise-guys say.

think about not thinking, if you can. certainly, you can't! the hours and minutes needed for logic bind us to the wheel of birth and death, a linear attempt to escape tightens the noose. like meaning, immortality isn't a thought, it's a state of being. and somehow the poem replaces my relentless search for meaning, and i'm there, in the being of it.

to my mind, the poem by W.B. Yeats which follows a perfect example of the process, literally taking us into the realm of the gods. 

News For The Delphic Oracle

THERE all the golden codgers lay,
There the silver dew,
And the great water  sighed for love,
And the wind  sighed too.
Man-picker Niamh leant and sighed
By Oisin on the grass;
There sighed amid his choir of love
Tall Pythagoras.
Plotinus came and looked about,
The salt-flakes on his breast,
And having stretched and yawned awhile
Lay sighing like the rest.
Straddling each a dolphin's back
And steadied by a fin,
Those Innocents re-live their death.
Their wounds open again.
The ecstatic waters laugh because
Their cries are sweet and strange,
Through their ancestral patterns dance. 
And the brute dolphins plunge
Until, in some cliff-sheltered bay
Where wades the choir of love
Proffering its sacred laurel crowns,
They pitch their burdens off. 

now my brother jumps in: "i can't make any sense of this. why should i bother?" he's been saying this about my poetry for years. first of all, it's obvious the folks above with the strange names heroes who've become gods. do you really have to know who they are? i doubt it, though that might add to your pleasure.

pleasure, that's what poetry is! why didn't i think of it before. it erases your debt to time and the bank. the advertiser says: get it now or it will be gone. the poet says: come with me into the Elysian Fields. and above, yeats gives you the chance to feel full pleasure, the reward of being in love. 

i apologize for the fervor and stiffness of the presenter. he means well, even if he misses the point: