February 16, 2006

Language and Poetry

Norman D. Livergood
Plato's Timaeus was interpreted as analogous, within the limits of poetic intuition and philosophical speculation, to the Christian vision of the inner, sacramental structure of the world. The authority the Chartrian Teaching Masters gave to Plato's cosmology became the foundation on which the study of all ancient literature was established. One of the reasons the Chartrian Mystery School embraced poetry so openly may have been as a means of evading the murderous heresy-hunters in the Roman Catholic Church.
Chartres, St. Victor, and other cathedral schools in the twelfth century, focused a large part of their attention on the role of poetry in the expression of complex ideas, and the complexities of meaning attainable in poetic language. One of their major texts was Boethius' Consolations of Philosophy, which gave definite expression to the metaphorical implications of the cosmology of the Timaeus and placed special emphasis on the psychological experience of the philosopher. In this major work, Philosophy teaches Boethius that attachment to earthly things is a form of imprisonment. Boethius' poem shows that poetry, inspired by love, suspends the working of necessity in the universe. Philosophy moves from persuasion and rational argument to an inspired use of poetry to bridge the gap between the situation of the dreamer and the divine harmony, denying the reality of the dreamer's loss as Orpheus seeks to deny the fact of the death of Eurydice. Secondary Chartrian Literature Wallace Stevens' Poems
"Neither the intelligence, the imagination nor the ear are the true or at least the deepest or highest recipients of the poetic delight, even as they are not its true or highest creators; they are only its channels and instruments: the true creator, the true hearer is the soul. The more rapidly and transparently the rest do their work of transmission, the less they make of their separate claim to satisfaction, the more directly the word reaches and sinks deep into the soul, the greater the poetry. Therefore poetry has not really done its work, at least its highest work, until it has raised the pleasure of the instrument and transmuted it into the deeper delight of the soul. A divine Ananda, a delight interpretative, creative, revealing, formative, -one might almost say, an inverse reflection of the joy which the universal Soul felt in its great release of energy when it rang out into the rhythmic forms of the universe the spiritual truth, the large interpretative idea, the life, the power, the emotion of things packed into an original creative vision, -such spiritual joy is that which the soul of the poet feels and which, when he can conquer the human difficulties of his task, he succeeds in pouring also into all those who are prepared to receive it. This delight is not merely a godlike pastime; it is a great formative and illuminative power." - Sri Aurobindo, "The Essence of Poetry"

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