In the opening chapter of the Gospel of Saint-John, the first verse reads: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… But what exactly does this mean? These words take us directly towards the origins of poetry and to the language that produces the structure of human and social life on Earth. Why do we address one another by means of speech and what is the difference between ordinary language and poetry?
We certainly have heard of Cyrano de Bergerac, who spoke in verse in Edmond Rostand’s famous play. Although, in general, people speak to one another in prose, which is normal language that we use in every day speech. This suggests that, in some ways, poetry does not seem to have a place in the daily life of humankind. If this is the case, then what is the purpose of poetry and how does it relate to this world?
In order to answer these questions it is necessary to understand that human life has two levels, one purely human, terrestrial and one spiritual, which is the soul’s domain. The human level is where the prose is located, prosaic life as we sometimes call it. It is the life of physical and material necessities, which constitute the core basis of our physical existence on Earth. Therefore, is this the only degree of existence in the life of Man?
If we sometimes designate this life with “prosaic”, it seems that we aspire intuitively to something else, something better, and something beyond. What could it be? It may be that we yearn for the poetic life and this life refers to the soul’s domain, to a spiritual conscience. In a way, we can say that poetry is the language of the soul, linked to the spiritual or divine part of human structure. It is the underlying meaning in the phrase: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Holy Spirit, who created this universe, built this world with the divine language, the “Word”.This language is at the same time a thought, an idea and a first form or externalization of this thought or idea that is to say, a “Word”.These “Words” formed the superstructures of our Universe like a grand divine poem. Maybe we can say the universe is like an epic poem and the creatures constitute the letters, to form together the sentences and content. For the moment, we can say that there are many unachieved sentences, they do not rhyme perfectly yet, they are still attempting to harmonize themselves…, but God has eternity!
Poetry, as we know it, is a pale reflection of this Divine poetry but it certainly has its “raison d’être”, or reason to exist. When properly understood, poetry can lead man towards soul consciousness, by raising man above his purely prosaic, terrestriallife in the direction of his own soul. People who appreciate this form of art in depth search for it, often unconsciously, just like those who love fine words and what it seeks to awaken in them. However, when poetry was still an art, as it was “well in the rules” it still possessed, most of the time, this edifying force that was lost in the last 150 years.
The Greek poets used a complete set of rules and poetic structures such as the monometer, the dissyllable or metrical feet such as anapest, iamb, and trochee amongst others.The Alexandrine, a verse form that consists of a line of twelve syllables, is a type of structure or verse system that already existed in Arabic, or in the Vedic poetry from ancient India. In every culture, everywhere in the world where written poetry was born, similar structures or principles existed. What is their origin?
The origin of those structures is located in the reality that transcends terrestrial incarnation, that we can call the Divine world which certain Greek philosophers referred to when they mentioned the world of Ideas. It is that mental reality that goes beyond the human intellect which is the homeland of the soul and that has provided at all times the poetic structures to all inspired poets and poetess. This explains, in most cases, the edifying effect this type of poems had on the individual, as the result of that kind of higher inspiration, which tapped directly into this Divine source.
Since these past epochs, humanity has evolved and, consequently, has achieved more freedom, as well as personal and individual creativity along with the development of the human intellect. The human intellect currently draws, in regards to the majority of poets, in the personal and individual subconscious of the concerned artists instead of drawing into the elevated source of inspiration thereby generating poems inspired, most of the time, by emotional or sentimental feelings that do not reflect the realities that transcend this experience or that might touch the soul. Although it is not a problem in itself, this kind of poetry cannot for humankind as a whole, be conducive to elevating the level of human consciousness in the direction of the soul. Because in spite of all, these two worlds human or Divine, the terrestrial or the soul’s world fundamentally do not mingle with one another. The best human feelings remain human realities and cannot in that sense, have any transcending effect.
The question then arises: does this human experience satisfy us sufficiently, or will we, in the future, search for poetry that shall (once again) take us beyond? Moreover, if we indeed look further, how could we achieve this search? Because going back to the past is no progress and individual freedom alone does not seem to be enough to guarantee a new inspiration that goes beyond personal, human life.
Besides, of what use is this form of transcendent inspiration for the present-day, for modern man?
(to be continued)