Monday, September 14, 2009

The Poets of the American Religion

"I think of love, and you, and my heart grows full and warm, and my breath stands still... I can feel a sunshine stealing into my soul and making it all summer, and every thorn, a rose." --Emily Dickenson 1852

Art, wrote Emerson, "is the path of the creator to his work. The paths, or methods, are ideal and eternal, though few men ever see them, not the artist himself for years, or for a lifetime. The painter, the sculptor, the composer, the epic writer, the orator, all partake one desire, namely, to express themselves "symmetrically and abundantly, not dwarfishly and fragmentarily." They found or put themselves in certain conditions, as, the painter and sculptor before some impressive human figures; the orator, into the assembly of the people; and the others, in such scenes as each has found exciting to his intellect; and each presently feels the new desire."

"He hears a voice, he sees a beckoning. Then he is apprised, with wonder, what herds of demons close him in. He can no more rest; he says, with the old painter, "By God, it is in me, and must go forth of me." He pursues a beauty, half seen, which flies before him. The poet pours out verses in every solitude. Most of the things he says are conventional, no doubt; but by and by he says something which is original and beautiful."

That charms him. He would say nothing else but such things. In our way of talking, we say, `That is yours, this is mine;' but the poet knows well that it is not his; that it is as strange and beautiful to him as to you; he would faint hear the like eloquence at length."

"Once having tasted this immortal, he cannot have enough of it, and, as an admirable creative power exists in these intellections, it is of the last importance that these things get spoken. What a little of all we know is said! What drops of all the sea of our science are baled up! and by what accident it is that these are exposed, when so many secrets sleep in nature! Hence the necessity of speech and song; hence these throbs and heart-beatings in the orator, at the door of the assembly, to the end, namely, that thought may be ejaculated as Logos, or Word. "
-- by Ralph Waldo Emerson

"A moody child and wildly wise
Pursued the game with joyful eyes,
Which chose, like meteors, their way,
And rived the dark with private
They overleapt the horizon's edge,
Searched with Apollo's
Through man, and woman, and sea, and star,
Saw the dance of
nature forward far;
Through worlds, and races, and terms, and times,
musical order, and pairing rhymes.

Olympian bards who sung
Divine ideas below,
Which always find us
And always keep us so."
--R. Emerson

"For, as it is dislocation and detachment from the life of God, that makes things ugly, the poet, who re-attaches things to nature and the Whole."

Beyond this universality of the symbolic language, we are apprised of the divineness of this superior use of things, whereby the world is a temple, whose walls are covered with emblems, pictures, and commandments of the Deity, in this, that there is no fact in nature which does not carry the whole sense of nature; and the distinctions which we make in events, and in affairs, of low and high, honest and base, disappear when nature is used as a symbol."

And more:

"Thanking God for having made you; thanking Him that I love you with all my heart and soul; above all, thanking Him because He has permitted you to love me..." --Eugene O'Neil, 1914

Walden, perhaps the most famous work of Henry David Thoreau, exemplifies the American spirit, the transcendent nature of the American mystical tradition, exploring the good and the beautiful exemplified in nature. It is a great spiritual feeling he writes of:

"Even the utmost good-will and harmony and practical kindness are not sufficient for Friendship, for Friends do not live in harmony merely, as some say, but in melody. We do not wish for Friends to feed and clothe our bodies--neighbors are kind enough for that--but to do the like office to our spirits."

"Things do not change; we change."

"Man flows at once to God when the channel of purity is open."

1 comment:

Simple said...

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