Saturday, June 3, 2017

June 3: Favorite Poet, Les Murray, "Poetry and Religion"

The poetry workshop I led on Thursday night was wonderful, despite the three hours of panic that preceded it.  When I arrived at the Joy Center, which is a lovely space for artists in the middle of the woods, I found myself immediately calm.  It was the kind of calm I usually experience when I'm writing a poem or praying.

Poetry and religion have always been linked in my life.  I don't know why.  Perhaps it's about creation or beauty.  Maybe it's the spiritual state in which I find myself when I hear a really great poem.  It makes me love the world a little bit more.  And I think that's all that God wants:  for us to love creation.

That may sound simplistic, but it guides my whole writing life.

God is Saint Marty's favorite poet.

Poetry and Religion

by:  Les Murray

Religions are poems. They concert
our daylight and dreaming mind, our
emotions, instinct, breath and native gesture

into the only whole thinking: poetry.
Nothing's said till it's dreamed out in words
and nothing's true that figures in words only.

A poem, compared with an arrayed religion,
may be like a soldier's one short marriage night
to die and live by. But that is a small religion.

Full religion is the large poem in loving repetition;
like any poem, it must be inexhaustible and complete
with turns where we ask Now why did the poet do that?

You can't pray a lie, said Huckleberry Finn;
you can't poem one either. It is the same mirror:
mobile, glancing, we call it poetry,

fixed centrally, we call it a religion,
and God is the poetry caught in any religion,
caught, not imprisoned. Caught as in a mirror

that he attracted, being in the world as poetry
is in the poem, a law against its closure.
There'll always be religion around while there is poetry

or a lack of it. Both are given, and intermittent,
as the action of those birds - crested pigeon, rosella parrot -
who fly with wings shut, then beating, and again shut.

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