I have a feeling that my boat
has struck, down there in the depths,
against a great thing.
happens! Nothing… Silence… Waves…
—Nothing happens? Or has everything happened,
and are we standing now, quietly, in the new life?
by Juan Ramon Jimenez
Here’s a poem which, for me, exemplifies what I see as poetry’s superpower: to speak through words to a wordless part of us that recognises and responds in impulse and feeling, before we’ve thought about it.
Try reading this poem again trusting this idea and notice what happens. Is something, somewhere expressing a recognition of the felt meaning in the poem? If so, don’t grasp at understanding what’s happening, but let it work on you. Involve yourself in the mystery of the poem. The conceptual understanding might come later today, tomorrow or next week.
Now I imagine that you, like me, might have a thought popping up here – ‘but what does it actually mean?’ My analysing mind wants to figure it out, put it in a box and put a label on it saying ’got it’!
It’s strange that we don’t respond to music in this way, but we do to poetry. Doubtlessly this is linked to the education we’ve received to prioritise intellectual knowing when it comes to words. But as David Richo, who wrote Being True to Life – Poetic Paths to Personal Growth says:
‘Poetry comes through the way music does, not the way words do’.
Music effects us and moves us emotionally. So does poetry. And what I believe poetry can do in a special way, is connect us at a real, authentic personal level with universal wisdom.
If you’d like to explore the power of poetry in this way, through mindfulness, join me for one of our Mindfulness and Mystical Poetry courses.
PS. This poem is from the book The Soul Is Here for Its Own Joy: Sacred Poems from Many Cultures, edited by Robert Bly. Find out more about Juan Ramon Jimenez here.
Image sourced by Johannes Plenio