“Poetry has this power of getting straight through to the deeper level. . . every time it happens, you become aware of the same splendid truth: that headache and the worry and the ‘thousand natural shocks the flesh is heir to’ are not an inescapable part of human existence.”
— Colin Wilson in Poetry and Mysticism
I’m using “poetry” here in the larger sense: not just poems, but created art in whatever form you do it, whether you’re a poet, a fiction writer, a teacher, a violinist, a weaver of baskets, a good parent, or whatever you do that requires art. I contend that the practice of our art is the one way of dealing with the world — of getting through this life.
William Blake wrote:
“Prayer is the Study of Art
Praise is the Practice of Art.”
He also wrote:
“I know of no other Christianity and of no other Gospel than
the liberty of both body & mind to exercise the Divine Arts
I give you the end of a golden string
Only wind it into a ball:
It will lead you in at Heaven’s gate,
Built in Jerusalem’s wall.”
I don’t know what you’ve found. I find that my only way of making any sense of life is in putting words together. Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire said, “God made me fast, and when I run I feel His pleasure.” I think that certainly applies to us writers — or to you in whatever your Art or Poetry is, be it nursing or homemaking or volunteering.
Blake once more:
“As in your own Bosom you bear your Heaven
And Earth, & all you behold, tho it appears Without it is Within,
In your Imagination of which this World of Mortality is but a Shadow.”
See? The mortal world is the shadow. Without our capacity to imagine, where would we be? God made us in His image, and His image is the Creator, Who called worlds into being with “Let there be.” Tolkien wrote of sub-creation: our rearranging of the building blocks God gives us to create our little otherworlds. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s when I’m happy: when I’m using my gifts to build something . . . when I’m living in the world of the imagination.
Anyway: Daylily (regular participant in this blog) readily answered the sonnet question last time, so let’s focus on her suggestion of the theme of gifts. You have a choice here, anyone who’d like to join in — you can:
1. Tell us about a wonderful/memorable gift you received.
2. Tell us about a gift you longed for, but never received.
3. Write your own version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” with a unifying theme (and please tell us what the theme is). (What would the song’s “true love” send to . . . a fantasy fiction writer? A teacher? A cyclist? A student? A musician?)
I’ll start us off with a trivial little example that will be easy for you to top:
One of my fondest memories of a childhood Christmas present is receiving a boxed set of Ray Bradbury books. For me at about age 10 or 11, that was the perfect Christmas present — all those stories packed in one little box, lavishly and intriguingly illustrated.
To this day, whether it’s Christmas or my birthday, no present makes me happier than a book. (Or booksssss!)
Quick childhood memory: at our family bookstore one year, we arranged letters on the electric sign in the window to read, “It isn’t Christmas without a book.” I was somewhere between 8 and 10 years old, and during that holiday season, my parents actually encouraged me to sit in the store window, on the triangular wooden stage, doing nothing but reading a book. (I was advertising, see? — “It isn’t Christmas without a book,” and here’s this life-sized kid sitting there avidly reading . . . see?) Well, more than once, I shifted positions slightly, and window-shoppers shrieked and jumped back. I guess they’d been thinking I was a mannequin. . . .
Happy New Year!