What Poetry Tries to Do

December 7, 2017

I'm not familiar with Gertrude Schnackenberg's work, but this fabulous quote on the motive of poetry makes me want to track down more of it:

“When I said that poetry tries and wants to make contact with reality, that is, with uttermost-being (truth, God, whatness, somethingness-nothingness, chaos-order)—to the Veda seers, the vibrating void; to the eighth-century Chinese poets, that-which-is-self-engendering; to mathematicians, a veil of numbers; to the Jewish mystics, the En-Sof; to Christian mystics, the indwelling of God and emanation of Christ in all things; to the animal kingdoms on earth, the starry night; to contemporary physicists, the excitation of superstrings; to cosmologists, the residue of an explosion of something to whose pre-explosion existence there is perhaps, as my friend Elaine Scarry once said to me, ‘no door’—I am referring very specifically and particularly to the material we are made from, this animated-in-us matter which we, in turn, express such a passionate drive to know (and which, in turn, has evolved a way to be known, through us, and is the source and object of our wonder and compulsion).”
--Gertrude Schnackenberg

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