Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Leaping Poetry and Primordial Words

I just finished reading Robert Bly's "Leaping Poetry, an Idea with Poems and Translations." In the work Bly attempts to explain what is happening in the poetry of Lorca and Neruda, Rilke, and the surrealists. Lorca tried to describe the phenomena himself in his brilliant book "Duende." Edward Hirsch picked up the thread in his book, "The Demon and the Angel." Paul Celan tried to explain it in his short prose pieces; just as Heidegger did in his work on poetry and Holderlin. Wallace Stevens wrote from it and tried to articulate it. Henry Corbin found it in the Iranian poets and called it the Mundus Imaginalis. What is it, then?

Bly says that it is the "leap" within the poem from the conscious to unconscious mind. But what it really is, is man, the myth-maker, making soul. Soul is made by man through his exploration of the unconscious contents of the world in a valiant attempt to make conscious what is unconscious. Soul-making is the evolution of myth through man's intense identification with his body and the surrounding nature. It is this action of evolving which occurs in Wallace Steven's poem "Anecdote of a Jar" and it is Paul Celan's groping in the dark to reach the other. It is the metaphor for the incarnation of god in man.

I wrote "Petroglyphs" as an expression of my struggle to understand the numinous feeling I received when reading certain poets--Rilke and Celan, in particular. I felt that this feeling arose from their use of certain images that contained the archetypal seeds of primal emotions. I called these images the "primordial word" and associated the "primordial word" with the word Logos. Logos is the creative force implicit in the creation of the Christian mythos. In my terminology the primordial word contains a primal emotion that connects us to an archetypal emotion. Consequently, the primal word functions as a portal that takes us to the Mundus Imaginalis--that mid-world between the conscious and the unconscious mind. It is the mid-world where great poetry resides. Shakespeare was a master of it. Ted Hughes understood and used it. Lorca had it, just as Celan and Rilke do. Bly reaches for and worships it. Therefore it is the "leap" that turns the stone of image that contains the poem.

Shamans, priests, and myth-makers depend upon the primal word to enter the Mundus Imaginalis. It is in that state that visions reside and the collective consciousness flows like a river. The entry way always demands a ritual. Surrealists use automatic writing; shamans use trances and self-inflicted illnesses; mystics use hunger and prayer; Sufis whirl; poets and Freudians associate. No matter the process, the goal is the same--to reach the mid-way, the Mundus Imaginalis--to tap into the collective unconscious to share the vision of the world and the language of the angels.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I always say (when I'm asked) that I am a 'Soul Writer' rather than a 'Poet'. Very interesting article, you. I'm glad I stumbled across it.