RE: Close Your Eyes.
I hope you enjoyed your weekend! 🙂
One thing that I enjoyed in Wandy’s post was the mention of “[t]he poet who falls in love … will likely write a poem about the heartbreak.” I firmly believe that loss and bereavement open up entirely new faculties–deeper understandings, a deeper well of emotion–than the idea of gain and love–those are just too happy! Out of loss, deeper emotions grow–out of death, comes life. One of the reasons I chose this post was because of the mention of the identity of the poet. The poet, as we have seen in class last week, connects us to other human beings in the past and in the future–that’s his “dharmic duty.” The poet cannot turn this feature off and he cannot easily trade “hats.” The poet is this connection; he is a vessel of tradition; he is a conduit; he is a medium. The poet connects us in a temporal and metaphysical realm–a universality. In order to achieve this, the poet must have a certain “sensitivity to feel deeply and passionately”; this sense of compassion can be seen in Whitman, Crane, and even Housman. In Whitman’s poem, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” we discussed the poet achieving the identity of the prophet; he looks forward into a new generation of new strangers and finds a common element we all experience–even if we are separated by time, we are all connected by a universal spirit, an oversoul (“The impalpable sustenance”). “Disintegrat[ion]” is what Whitman calls it, and I find it appropriate, for it is the disintegration of all sense of self, of all egotistical meaning–through this process of disintegration, we join the infinite ebbing of the universal spirit, we are “part of the scheme.” In eastern mysticism, there is the atman, which is the individual’s soul; the atman is separate from western ideas of the soul because the atman is trapped by the body, a mesh of cells restraining the soul from reaching/achieving peace–nirvana, the process by which the individual soul joins the consummate universal energy to which we all belong. So, the “poet” is an extremely varying identity–it covers a multitude of both “communal” and “personal” identities, what the poet should be in terms of his contemporaries, as well as what he should be in terms of his personal philosophies. By taking on the identity of the prophet, the poet sees pain in future existences, which is seen in Whitman and Housman. In Whitman’s poem, that one striking line, “I am with you, and know how / it is,” is extraordinary–when I read that line, my jaw dropped from the idea of pure depersonalization by imagining a world without you and still feeling the basic feelings of hate, love, depression, and stress for all generations to come. Although we didn’t discuss Housman in relation to this sense of universality with the introduction of eastern mysticism, I feel that his poem, “They Say My Verse Is Sad: No Wonder,” is worth mentioning:
They say my verse is sad: no wonder;
Its narrow measure spans
Tears of eternity, and sorrow,
Not mine, but man’s.
This is for all ill-treated fellows
Unborn and unbegot,
For them to read when they’re in trouble
And I am not.
This poem reminded of future projection; Housman explains that although he, personally, may not be undergoing pain and angst, but the feelings are still relatable–they are universal. Housman writes, “Its narrow measure spans / Tears of eternity, and sorrow, / Not mine, but man’s” (2-4). He writes of the human condition, the human experience. We are all connected to one another in at least one way; if you look at our existence in a purely physical context, we are all human beings who are comprised of atoms. The earth, too, is comprised of atoms; when we die, we are put in the ground (or cremated) and then enter the cycle of life as early as we entered it. In a metaphysical context, we all feel, and because of that, we are all connected. In a spiritual context, again, the stings of our separate lives can be connected through the idea of belonging to some consummate force: eastern mysticism; after achieving freedom from the shackles of our physical bodies–of our personal identities–the soul joins a larger, more powerful, soul–a universal or oversoul. I prefer the idea of eastern mysticism. In modern vernacular, its as if the poet-prophet is saying, “It’s okay, I’ve been there, and you’ll get through it, too; we’ll reach that universal spirit eventually…” The alluring quality for me lies in the idea of depersonalization–to become part of something so consummate that you must abandon yourself completely–rid yourself of individuality to join the universal flowing of energy, which brings forth beauty in life and death.