Poetry makes me stumble; its obstructions impede my path:
What is the poem’s context? When was it written? What is the poet’s perspective?
Am I left to explore on my own?
Please, point me in the right direction. Give me a running start.
Absolute music makes sense to me:
Mozart’s piano concertos, for example, mean nothing more,
But surely nothing less, than the beauty of his heaven-sent strains:
Clear as crystal in recognizable forms, they flow in consorts via tongue-tied instruments.
Abstract poetry, I suppose, is the equivalent:
Words chosen for their sounds
Rather than their sense or meaning.
Do make-believe words come in to play?
The extreme makes my point.
Sad to say, for me most poetry is abstract.
Like the Ethiopian Eunuch, I don’t grasp what I’m reading.
Will no one come alongside to help?
At last, I’ve been given a guide:
Poet-priest Malcolm Guite walks me thru two collections:
Waiting on the Word, a poem a day for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany,
The Word in the Wilderness, verses for Lent and Easter.
Some selections are his own;
Most are by others—past, recent-past, and present.
His reflections, short and beautifully insightful, are works of art too.
They orient me. They give me an appropriate push.
And they issue silent invitations to explore the artists, one by one.
Holly Ordway’s offering “Maps” yielded a side-trip into Not God’s Type—
A striking pilgrimage from atheism to Christianity.
Other outings may come in pursuance of George Herbert, G. M. Hopkins or Christina Rossetti.
Praise for the hope that poetry’s rough places may be made plain.
© Stan BohallApril 2, 2016