17 December 2005

origins of modern poetry

In Best Words Best Order: Essays on Poetry Stephen Dobyns says Gerard de Nerval “suffered from a psychosis of reference, meaning that he felt all random events were not random but contained symbolic information capable of being understood.” Dobyns also ooldly claims, “It can be argued that all modern European, American and South American poetry derives from this poem" (translated by Laure-Anne Bosselaar and Dobyns):

Golden Verses

                                                       Everything is sentient!

Free-thinker, do you imagine only man can think
When life bursts from everything in this world?
Your freedom lightly disposes of the powers you hold,
But from your intentions, the universe is absent.

In each and every animal respect the active spirit,
To Nature each flower becomes a blossoming soul,
The mystery of love inhabits every metal,
Everything has power over you. “Everything is sentient!”

Fear, in the blind wall, the eye that watches:
Even to matter itself a voice is attached.
Never permit it serve some unworthy need.

Often, in obscure beings, a God lies hidden,
And, like a nascent eye covered by its lid,
A pure spirit swells beneath the skin of stones.

Dobyns goes on to say, “What Baudelaire realized [partly through study of Poe], however, was that the eye in the wall is a projection of the self.”

If you read or write poetry, you must own this book.

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