Poetry of the Spirit / The Spirit of Poetry
by Dean Carter
There can be no poetry, or any other form of art, without inspiration, and most people would agree that you can tell the difference between work that is merely humdrum, even if technically apparently passing the mark, and that which is inspired, that which has that mysterious and true ‘X-factor’.
But what is inspiration? Can we define it or understand it or quantify it in any meaningful way? I believe we can.
‘Inspiration’ literally means drawing in breath, and the creative force is often equated with wind, breath. The word we have translated from both Greek and Hebrew as meaning ‘spirit’ literally means breath: Gk ‘pneuma’, (as in a pneumatic, i.e. wind-filled, tyre) and Hebrew: RUaCh. Our well known phrase ‘the Holy Spirit’ in Hebrew is ELoHIM RUaCH, thus ‘the breath of the ELoHIM’. ELoHIM is a male-female plural for ‘light-beings’ or gods, and ALL the creating acts in ‘Genesis’ (Hebrew BeRaShITH, ‘Creation’) are perpetrated not by a male-only singular God, but the ELoHIM, the Light Mothers and Fathers.
To be a true poet or artist of any sort is a matter of getting the ego-self out of the way in order for this creative wind to come through, in the same way that meditation is a process of stilling or de-energising the ego-mind’s restless scurrying activity, to attain a glimpse of the stillness of Consciousness itself as opposed to consciousness of any one or any number of things---of Awareness Itself rather than awareness of ‘this’ or ‘that’.
This is all summarised for me perfectly by D.H. Lawrence, expressing his feeling of, and hope for, a perfect alignment with a Higher creative power in his poem ‘The Song Of A Man Who Has Come Through’:
Not I, not I, but the wind that blows through me!
A fine wind is blowing the new direction of Time.
If only I let it bear me, carry me, if only it carry me!
If only I am sensitive, subtle, oh, delicate, a winged gift!
If only, most lovely of all, I yield myself and am borrowed
By the fine, fine wind that takes its course through the chaos of the world
Like a fine, an exquisite chisel, a wedge-blade inserted;
If only I am keen and hard like the sheer tip of a wedge
Driven by invisible blows,
The rock will split, we shall come at the wonder, we shall find the Hesperides.
Oh for the wonder that bubbles into my soul,
I would be a good fountain, a good well-head,
Would blur no whisper, soil no expression.
What is the knocking?
What is the knocking at the door in the night?
It is somebody wants to do us harm.
No, no, it is the three strange angels.
Admit them, admit them.
Surrender to a Higher Power, yielding oneself to That Which Is, and especially as here the animating wind that is the very creative essence itself, is the defining act of both the mystic and the true artist. It is the ‘I’ of ego that has to be bypassed both for a creative life and for a spiritual one— the two paths are perhaps inseparable.