We have to be careful with poetry. It is likely to be like a looking glass in which we enter—and never return.
But of course poetry will immediately laugh, and ask, “Return? Return to where?”
Poetry should not be laughing, because poetry can swallow us up, and bring us down to Hades—and force us to live in a world without light—it can.
The others, the non-poets, walk about in a cloud of language; language arms them, language lives inside their heads, and yet, in the sunshine, among other non-poets, among painters, and advertising executives, they are free.
Only the poets are forced to live in darkness.
In that darkness fungi grow, and with the gentle lapping of the swamp waters in the back of the poet’s brain, the poet will answer you slowly, “What? What did you say?”
In the fantasy we have just drawn, poets are different; but of course they are not.
The laughter of the poet is true.
The poet cannot be brought anywhere, or returned anywhere. The poet breathes the fresh air of heaven. And can talk and sing and paint. Poetry just helps the poet a little bit to be in all ways more human.
As da Vinci the painter boasted, poetry means nothing to an animal, but a painter, with his depictions, can fool any bestial eye.
Poems live with humans—but are really not such a bad thing for that. Animals, after all, are delightful for being like humans; humans are not charming who act like animals.
Denise Duhamel has fashioned a line from deep, human, sorrow. Poetry can travel, if it wishes, into dim realms of human shame:
it’s easy to feel unbeautiful when you have unmet desires
Does this line make us feel sorry for the poet? Or is it beyond the person, and hinting at a secret truth: beauty and desire will always be the same, and in them, feeling and seeing are the same, and this is a torture that kills us all?
Cristina Sánchez López (pictured above) is letting her line of poetry take us upwards, towards the light, even as she gently reminds us with her line that poetry belongs more to hearing and time than to realms or regions—although we know there can be regions of pure sound:
Have you heard strings? They seem like hearts that don’t want to forget themselves.
To forget occurs in time. But what do we forget? Ourselves. Poetry is the self living in time. Poetry is faith that time will make us beautiful. Poetry belongs to this region, to this region the poets, and those who love them, constantly return.