The poetry of integrity – La Chronique
From ancient times to the present day, poets have played an important role in human civilizations. As Edward Hirsch says in the book “A Poet’s Glossary, ” “Poetry is a human fundamental, like music. Robert Graves calls poetry “stored magic.” And poetry can be magic.
A poetic line with an economy of words can speak to a whole cosmos of experience. Sometimes, as you may know, it only takes one word to heal or challenge you. This is what poetry can do. Poems do things with words and mean things with words that flattened prose just can’t do. Poetry is in fact more than words. This perhaps explains why former American poet laureate Billy Collins said in an interview with “The Paris Review,” “While the novelist is typing on his typewriter, the poet is looking at a fly in a window.” Poetry is more than writing; it is a vision and a being.
Poets can be seen as disconnected. But historically, poets are the ones who have come into contact with what is really real. This is why at funerals we often turn to a poem like the psalm: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I do not want … even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I do not fear any wrong… “.
Why do you think nations and states have poets laureates? Why do you think poets still adorn the stages of presidential investitures? We need them because we need those who have an ear, an eye and a sense of what is real and possible.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, God made worlds by words. The poet Horace Walpole wrote: “God is the perfect poet, who in himself acts according to his own creations. God was a creator, that’s what the word “poet” means. When God spoke, a poem was created and there was a pattern, a yardstick, a symmetry, a rhythm and a pure feeling of pleasure. According to your theological belief system, if God was a poet, that means we are poems. In a sacred text we mean that “we are the work of God [poiema]… ”We are the poem of God. God does things with words, yet we are more than words. As poems, we are art embodied. Although Billy Collins has a traditional understanding of poetry when he says, “Gasoline comes in gallons, cigarettes in packets, and poetry in verse and stanzas,” I suggest that poetry also comes into human lives. , not just in the verses.
It strikes me when I read Bible writer James or as I like to call him, ‘Bro. Jimmy. ‘ Boyfriend. Jimmy emphasizes “being actors of the word and not just listeners” (James 1). The Greek word for “doers” is poets, that is to say, poets or makers. Be the poets of the word, the makers of the word, the makers of the word. Poets are doers, revealing that poetry is not only about verses and stanzas, but includes a whole and embodied life. Derek Whitehead said: “The Greeks taught that poiesis was conceived as bringing something from concealment to the full light…. So the kind of poetry I’m talking about happens in plain sight, in the light.
Poetry should be more than words, especially when Bro. Jimmy also teaches us to be slow to speak and even to restrict our tongues. We can be poetic and not use words, if what we absorb, we experience it; if what we believe, we embody it; and, if what we digest, we serve it. If our thinking and our action are integrated, then it is the poetry of integrity. It is integrative life, a state of being whole and undivided as a person when our beliefs match our actions.
Poets give meaning to their life, not just lines. Poets are makers. As Marilyn Flower says, “Actions become… a poetic pull” and the poet is a poem that people see. This moving poetry can be beautiful when dealing with orphans, widows, refugees and the most vulnerable among us.
Some may try to ‘tie [our] poem on a chair with a rope, ”as Billy Collins notes, but society needs active poets who will do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly in the world. Are you a poet in this broader and human sense? I hope so because a life without poetry, a life without integrity, is dead and mortal. We have seen many examples throughout history. Don’t be another one of those stats. Instead, write a script with your life that others can read to understand the nature of integrity poetry.
I call on all the poets who will do more than verse but put their lives in danger for the good of the world. Any takers?
Reverend Dr. Luke A. Powery is the Dean of Duke Chapel. His column is broadcast every other Monday.
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