This page contains musings and descriptions of things, thoughts, dreams, and events that come to my attention for whatever reason. Writers are notorious for having junkyard minds—lots of flotsam and jetsam on any one day—some useful, some not so useful. My postings here will be irregular and of varying length but I hope they will be useful, inspiring or, at the least amusing.
Why Poetry? [June 16, 2019]
I love reading defences of the art of poetry. Why does it exist at all? Isn’t prose enough to convey the human experience? And it’s so much easier to understand. So, why bother with all the complexities of rhythm and rhyme and line breaks that go into creating a poem?
Kathleen Raine, a mid-twentieth century English poet and literary critic, has written a strong defence of the art titled “What Is the Use of Poetry? It was recently republished (2017) in a collection of her essays “That Wonderous Pattern; Essays on Poetry and Poets”. She examines poetry’s unique contribution to the human experience in the context of the evolving materialism of our civilization and poetry’s unique power. Two points in her essay caught my attention:
Poetry is the language of the soul, the house of the soul.
From the beginnings of civilization poetry has been the language of human feeling and thought at the highest level. The words of the great poets, Raine states, were “inspired from a source not accessible to the commonplace, everyday mind.” This source lies beyond the individual in deeper and universal regions of the spirit.
We live today in a world of imaginative illiteracy where knowledge is a transmission of information, not of understanding.
The materialistic ideologies of the last century have desacralized the world by a diminishment and denial of our inner life. The true purpose of poetry (and other arts) is to help us to remember the eternal world within ourselves.
Writing One's Life [September 4, 2018]
The poet Rilke made a dogged effort to capture every last little thing he encountered in life without deciding in advance its ultimate significance. He wrote out each "assignment" dealt to him by life in order not to miss anything the next time around.
"The longer I live, the more urgent it seems to me to endure and transcribe the whole dictation of existence up to its end, for it might just be the case that only the very last sentence contains that small and possibly inconspicuous word through which everything we had struggled to learn and everything we had failed to understand will be transformed into magnificent sense." From his letters.
A reason to keep a diary or journal even if it’s full of trivia.
Cassidy Heritage [September 3, 2018]
Reading the website for the CASSIDY clan [http://cassidyclan.org/cassidy-history/], I discovered the CASSIDY clan were historically noted for being doctors, priests and scholars, and poets.
The earliest renowned Cassidy poet was Giolla Mochuda O Caiside. Still widely read and sung is the poetry of Tomas O Cassidy, an 18th century Augustan friar expelled from the friary as a poet and renegade priest. His most famous poem is An Caisideach Ban which is sung the length and breadth of Ireland. It is the story of Cassidy, a priest, who lusts after a fair maiden and his final wish on his death bed would be to get a kiss from her.
Sounds like a fascinating story, an expelled poet-priest roaming the countryside. I must look into it. Maybe there is a poem or novel therein.