March 31st, 2013

Ivan M. Granger On Poetry And Spirituality

Poetry and the Sacred Experience

The experience of spiritual ecstasy is not easily conveyed through words. The state is too all-encompasing, too immense for descriptive prose. The language of prose attempts to box in meaning, whereas poetry allows meaning to gather. The elastic nature of poetry is better suited to the sacred experience, relaying the truth of the experience without attempting to circumscribe it.

The metaphors of sacred poetry are often spontaneous. The sacred experience is beyond word and form, yet the limited mind, in trying to understand what it is witnessing, reflexively reinterprets the experience in terms of the world known to the senses. What emerges is a primal language of metaphor, a rich and spontaneous pidgin that develops between the limited mind and the unlimited awareness.

As a result, mystics the world over find themselves speaking of a golden ocean, the sweetness of honey, the giddiness of wine, the shining moon, ecstatic annihilation in fire.

And this is why mystics in every culture write poetry.