Poetry

Poetry expresses the ineffable.  The poet’s job is to twist the arm of language until it says what he wants it to say.   The injuries are superficial; the cries of pain, songs of ecstasy.   Prose explains love; poetry speaks it.  I pass on to you my inexpressible thoughts about God and man, truth and poetry.   Dissect, digest, delight.   If you find beauty and truth in my thoughts, thank God, and thank all the people who contributed to my thought and my life.  Before you read, let me warn you that like prose, poetry has limits.  When language cries out, inaccuracies are inevitable; translation into prose necessarily mangles the poet’s views.  Don’t expect a straight answer from twisted words. This is not a book; it is a rose.

It’s against the rules for me to tell you what the poems mean.  After all, if you don’t have some idea after reading it, then it has failed as a form of communication.  Besides, the point of the poem was to make you think, not just tell you the answer.  Figuring out what the poem means is a fruitful intellectual and emotional exercise.

I don’t limit the meaning of my poems to the meaning I intended in writing it.  If the poem means something else to each reader, that is not necessarily a failure of communication.  It might be because the poem actually does mean more than I meant when I wrote it.  A poem is a language experiment; as with any kind of experiment, it is only natural that the author does not have complete understanding. I have to live with incomplete control over the poem.   Yet I also don’t have to bear the full responsibility of explaining the universe.  Others can have their say even in my explanation, which ultimately makes the poem more significant.

I’m not saying truth is relative, but rather that poetry is deliberately ambiguous.  It has a range of meanings, which multiple people are needed to explore. This ambiguity is due both to language and to reality. To language, because poetry uses imagery along with unconventional, idiosyncratic, and sometimes deliberately ambiguous language to communicate ideas which are often nonverbal to begin with. To reality, because even though truth is not relative, it is multifaceted, so that multiple perspectives contribute to a correct understanding. That is what makes poetry a useful medium for expressing truth (as are many other genres).

Here are some general hints as to my methods and views:  Look not only for rhyme and meter, but also for alliteration, acrostic, and chiasm (as in the first paragraph).  Expect Christian thinking, as well as subtle and pervasive Biblical allusions.

Art of a Mathematician