The Ancient Modern
Poetry and the Real / Joshua Alan Sturgill
One of the duties and privileges of writing poetry is the exploration of one’s own mind.
We are given very few tools to discover how our thoughts work, or how to craft them rather than being crafted by them.
Contemporary culture—technology, architecture, literature—has become so removed from Nature that it no longer resembles Nature or dialogues with Nature.
Yet, Nature—principles and manifestations of Life—is our true home.
Writing poetry returns us to our thoughts and hence to our relationship with Nature.
When the soul no longer reflects the world around it, it cannot conform and converse. Adjusting and conforming ourselves to the Real is, for us, a very difficult task.
—perhaps even a repugnant task, given that our age is one of constant excitement and novelty.
Hints and intuitions of Nature, and of our nature, still reach us, however, despite the yawning chasm between how we live and what we truly are.
These hints and intuitions are of a frightening and extraordinary Beauty.
The writer of poetry allows the hint to become thought and the thought to become action: a composition of words that faithfully adjusts and conforms to Beauty.
In the same way, someone repairing a torn piece of fabric uses needle and thread to bring the sides of the tear back together.
The craft of writing is the needle, the poem is the thread. Our thoughts and Nature are brought back into unity through the work of poetry.
For most of us, since childhood, we have been accustomed to very simple and systematic ideas about how the world works. Some of these ideas are taught; some are inferred.
We no longer think, pray or write with spontaneous insight.
We think others’ thoughts, which pass into us from teachers, news and television programs.
In order to hold a simple and systematic view of things, we set aside philosophy and religion—which, at their best, were like ladders for guiding the soul back to its Origin.
To write a poem is to make an attempt at restoring the soul’s orientation toward its highest possibilities.
To write a poem is to show that the simple and systematic are doors of the complex and manifold.
To write a poem is to explore one’s own mind—and, to discover that one’s own mind is not separate from Nature, from history, from God.