Hazards of Holiness: Poems, 1957-1960

Hazards of Holiness: Poems, 1957-1960

Hazards of Holiness: Poems, 1957-1960

Hazards of Holiness: Poems, 1957-1960

Excerpt

We gaze at such men in awe, because we gaze not at a work of art, but at the re-creation of the man through that art, the birth of a new species of man, and, it may even seem that the hairs of our head stand up, because that birth, that re-creation is from terror. . . . They and their sort alone earn contemplation, for it is only when the intellect has wrought the whole of life to drama, to crisis, that we may live for contemplation, and yet keep our intensity.

--WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS The Trembling of the Veil

In the foreword to The Crooked Lines of God I spoke of the aridity which gradually tightened upon my spirit in the first years of my religious life, shutting off the creative flow. When I began to write again it was perhaps inevitable that this subject itself should become the matter of my poems. T. S. Eliot, in his essay "The Three Voices of Poetry" speaks of the poet as one

oppressed by a burden which he must bring to birth in order to obtain relief. Or, to change the figure of speech, he is haunted by a demon, a demon against which he feels powerless, because in its first manifestation it has no face, no name, nothing; and the words, the poem he makes, are a kind of exorcism of this demon. In other words again, he is going to all that trouble, not to communicate with anyone, but to gain relief from acute discomfort; and when the words are finally arranged in the right way--or in what he comes to accept as the best possible arrangement he can find--he may experience a moment of appeasement, of absolution and of something very near to annihilation, which is itself indescribable.

This objectification of inner experience becomes the most efficacious of all acts of relief, except prayer. The underblows of the mind have their own laws, the reverse of all the pilgrim had been taught to expect; for though in the first part of his journey the direction ran straight enough, from bad to good, from dark to light--in the extremity of the onward search and the exhaustion . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.