Thursday, February 24, 2005


Ive never met a poet. I mean a real poet. Or somebody who aspires to the life of a poet. I imagine a poet as a dour sort of chap. He has to be. He's someone who, as a matter of course, lives in a different plane from the rest of us. And he's this way because of frustration with our plane. A poet's life is one of frustration. He chooses a living by communicating, or attempting to communicate, the incommunicable. He doesnt have the tools to do so except words. And words are ill-equipped to handle the job. Think of painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with a ballpoint pen. He strains and cranes. He pleads and cajoles and threatens the words to do his bidding: Paradox, parable, and allegory. Personification, anthropomorphism, and zoomorphism. Metonymy, synedoche, merism, and hendiadys. Simile, metaphor, and a partridge in a pear tree. Blood from stone, it just doesnt happen. The poet slinks away in defeat. Heroically he tries again, hoping against hope that one day, magically, humanity would evolve in such a way that they would discern meaning beyond the words, but knowing deep down in their heart of hearts that the odds are against it. But they hope. Hope springs in the poet's heart like a spring in a desert oasis, watering his soul, giving him strength. He plods on in his fool's errand, knowing he can't win. But he has his words. They'll live on. That's what the poet is counting on. And that is enough.

I've never met a poet.

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