A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

God And The Imagination

I make no apology for posting again on my blog this wonderful concluding paragraph from one of Denise Levertov's essays...

This acknowledgement, and celebration, of mystery probably constitutes the most consistent theme of my poetry from its very beginnings. Because it is a matter of which I am conscious, it is possible, however imprecisely, to call it an intellectual position; but it is one which emphasizes the incapacity of reason alone (much though I delight in elegant logic) to comprehend experience, and considers Imagination the chief of human faculties. It must therefore be by the exercise of that faculty that one moves toward faith, and possibly by its failure that one rejects it as delusion. Poems present their testimony as circumstantial evidences, not as closing argument. Where Wallace Stevens says, 'God and the imagination are one', I would say that the imagination, which synergizes intellect, emotion and instinct, is the perceptive organ through which it is possible, though not inevitable, to experience God.


The following poems I've also posted before, and I love them. They mean so much to me. No call for analysis or interpretation: I feel it would diminish the magic of their brief but eternal beauty, their clarity, their mystery, their truth, their numinous presence. For me, poetry doesn't get much better than this.

Of Being

I know this happiness
is provisional:

           the looming presences -
           great suffering, great fear -

           withdraw only
           into peripheral vision:

but ineluctable this shimmering
of wind in the blue leaves;

this flood of stillness
widening the lake of sky:

this need to dance,
this need to kneel:
                          this mystery:



The fire in leaf and grass
so green it seems
each summer the last summer.

The wind blowing, the leaves
shivering in the sun,
each day the last day.

A red salamander
so cold and so
easy to catch, dreamily

moves his delicate feet
and long tail. I hold
my hand open for him to go.

Each minute the last minute.



The Weaver of Grass said...

I don't know this poet at all Robert - but I do see what you mean. Sometimes poetry resonates
and has a deep meaning for me without me trying to take it apart - then it is best left alone and just read.

George said...

Both poems and the excerpt from the essay are marvelous. I think your instinct is right, Robert, and I will follow it. This writing needs neither analysis nor interpretation — only silent appreciation.

am said...

"This acknowledgement, and celebration, of mystery ..."

Thanks so much for posting that concluding paragraph and those two poems again!

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

I think it was Pascal who said something like the heart has reasons that reason cannot comprehend.

For my full analysis and discussion of these bracing poems, see below:

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, Pat, often it's better to keep whole and keep hidden rather than tear apart.

George - I'm silently appreciating your silent appreciation.

Cheers, am - and Lorenzo,I enjoyed your full analysis and discussion. Your erudite and detailed arguments were much appreciated, and read critically, though sympathetically. (Though make things shorter next time - it's taken me all day to get through them!) :)

Ruth said...

Well all this brings a smile and a tear this morning. We try to impound the mystery in words, but silence is better. Beautiful passages from Levertov, and I, too, love Lorenzo's lucid revelations.