Thursday, September 02, 2004

A Divine Theory of Poetics

But sooner or later I’ll catch a glimpse of something elemental in the corner of my eye and know that’s it!

I’m quoting myself: how gauche! So quickly let me quote someone else:
The monastic practice of lectio divina -- which literally means holy reading -- seemed hopelessly esoteric to me for a long time. When I read descriptions of it, I'd figure that my mind was too restless, too impatient, too flighty to do it well. But then the monk who was my oblate director said, 'What do you mean? You're doing it!' He explained that the poems I was writing in response to the scripture I'd encounter at the Divine Office with the monks, or in my private
reading, were a form of lectio.
That is Kathleen Norris. I read the quote at the The Chatelaine's Poetics this morning along with the Chatelaine’s most excellent response: “But what if the poet considers all of the world, and not just "scripture", holy? Then the results can also be poetry -- I quite unabashedly offer that (and notwithstanding that, religion-wise, I'm just a lapsed Methodist) I feel the poem as a "holy space."

Amen! I love this notion of an active lectio in act of the poem. And I think it is tied to that elemental something I spoke of earlier. I “discover” most of my poetry in contemplation of the the world, whether during the obvious meditation accomplished in hiking a mountain, or that similar meditation while driving a car through a suburban landscape, or maybe just quietly walking down a city street.

This is transcendental lectio divina: reading the scriptures of nature; meditating on that elemental something one discovers; praying the poem; and finally that contemplative rest that follows when one can just enjoy the whole experience.


Robert said...

Even your prose is poetic.

Dave said...

True for me - i always say that writing poetry is my only form of religious practice (which is not to suggest i wouldn't benefit fromothers).