Thursday, October 15, 2009

More Thomas Howard on poetry

Howard's thoughts below echo recent comments by Dr. Ken Craven.

"It is the language whose first halting utterances are our efforts to describe our experience by getting images of it from other realms of experience. ... It is the language, skipping or solemn, that elevates our experience by imposing a form upon it, not arbitrarily, but because it suspects that the truest way of speaking of that experience is formally. It is the language that... disposes and arrays the common stuff of experience so that it is ritually transfigured from mere function into an instance of glory.

For it is the language that takes a serious view of experience. It is not satisfied with the idea of mere random tumble. It is not mere random tumble, it insists. There is something here. There is something to be said. There is something, oddly, to be elicited from this tumble. Take it. Grasp it. Handle it. Try one thing and another. Try to shape it. Impose some form on it. Lo... lo... when you are finally satisfied that you have imposed the right form on it, you will wonder whether that form was imposed by you, or whether it emerged from the thing itself.

This is the business of the poets. They are burdened and happy spirits who can do this--this that we all try to do. Burdened because they know that the most important thing is the most daunting thing--to seek and find and utter that significance that emerges from the union of form and content; happy because from time to time they succeed."

(from pages later...)

"There is the paradox of poetry. What seems to have been imposed rather arbitrarily by the poet... ends up seeming to rise from the stuff itself"


Anonymous said...

This from UnamSanctumCatholicam site (see True Wester):

"It is a mark of false religion that it is always trying to express concrete facts as abstract; it calls sex affinity; it calls wine alcohol; it calls brute starvation an economic problem. The test of true religion is that its energy drives exactly the other way; it is always trying to make men feel truths as facts; always trying to make abstract things as plain and solid as concrete things; always trying to make men, not merely admit the truth, but see, smell, handle, hear, and devour the truth."Alarms and Discursions" --GK Chesterton

Suzanne Marie DeWitt said...

How grateful I am to see, smell, taste, and devour The Truth at the mass!