Our hope is that you enjoy some of the poems posted here and they will be changing, and that you write, write, write or read, read, read- and allow the magic of Poetry Untethered to shape you in new ways!
The origins of poetry lie in ancient song, chant, myth and rich storytelling in the oral tradition. We see the material evidence of the human need for expression and creation of meaning in life, community, and self in the Lascaux caves of southwestern France, dating back 17.000 years. The making of meaning is at the core of the human experience, and the arts speak to us in a nuanced language. Language that reaches to the inner layers of knowing, remembering and envisioning becomes poetry.
So, why is poetry highlighted here in the midst of our Existential-Humanistic website? As we shine a light on any art form, one can begin to follow the trail of the mysterious, a narrative, the blue and dark moments, as well as the exhilarating and miraculous experiences within our human experience. As we turn the experience over and over, we begin to notice intersections and common points throughout time, humanity and distance. The following quotes by historic poets highlight the process of poetry with words such as; meaning, struggle, perception, renaming, healing, transformation, not passive- and these are found in way of living, creating a therapeutic relationship, coalesce, take shape, help people and unifying.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge describes poetry as an organic process similar to the imagination- involving perception, destruction and re-constitution. Coleridge describes the imagination in two parts; primary imagination and secondary imagination. The primary imagination involves one’s initial perception, and the secondary imagination leads to poetry as the writer senses, dissolves and reconstitutes the information resulting in an interplay of reality and imagination. (Parini, 2008, p.14).
Percy Bysshe Shelley spoke to the unique expression of each human being with the use of an analogy of a wind chime or the Aeolian harp, “winds blow over this passive instrument, drawing forth “their ever-changing melody” (p.15). Poems serve both the poet and the reader by unifying fragmented experience, and in sharing a common and collective experience.
Although one of my favorite poets, Emily Dickinson, did not write about poetry in prose her mentor, Thomas Wentworth Higginson recalls a comment she made,
“If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?” (p. 18)
Adrienne Rich writes, “For a poem to coalesce, for a character or an action to take shape, there has to be an imaginative transformation of reality which is in no way passive…. For writing is renaming.” (p.22). To recount one more of the thousands upon thousands of ideas of poetry, Wallace Stevens discusses the pressure of reality and poetry as a craft to create equilibrium. Poetry becomes a way to “help people live their lives” (p.20).
William Stafford writes about artists relates to his work in a participatory way, “For me an artist is someone who lets the material talk back.” (Stafford, 1986) Stafford reflects on his muse, and “wherever the muse looked, I jumped. I felt the tang of possibility.” (p.20)
Imagining into the convergence of authenticity with poetry the following poem stood out.
When I Met My Muse
I glanced at her and took my glasses off-
they were still singing. They buzzed like
a locust on the coffee table and then ceased.
Her voice belled forth, and the sunlight bent.
I felt the ceiling arch, and knew that nails up there
took a new grip on whatever they touched.
“I am your own way of looking at things,” she said.
“When you allow me to live with you,
every glance at the world around you will be a sort of salvation.”
And I took her hand.