The Art of Poetry, by Manatita
The esoteric or aesthetic poet is initially inspired from within. He or she may not consciously know this, but there is an unmistaken and intuitive pull from nature, that attracts such souls. With persistence and joy in his/her work, sooner or later, either by guidance from without or inwardly, or both - as in my case - the poetry of the esoteric poet flourishes. It then becomes a beacon of inspiration to many, having been touched and given the benediction to guide and heal Souls from the Supreme Itself.
I was originally influenced by Shakespeare, Keats, Blake, Kipling, Wordsworth and many more. I can still re-call sitting under a lamp post at 4.a.m., in the early hours of a typical Caribbean morning, imbibing the beauty of the poet’s sonnets or other sublime works.
I wrote to a small degree in my early teens, but it was not until the early eighties, that I re-commenced my love for all things aesthetically beautiful; expressing them on paper in such a way as brought me much accolade from others. The esoteric side would soon develop by my coming into contact with Sri Chinmoy, an illumined visionary and remarkable lover of God, the Supreme.
Of course poetry is a form of art, a creativity which Sri Chinmoy expresses most loftily, with tremendous depth and breadth:
“The supreme Art is to know the Supreme Artist intimately, within and without. This knowledge, well-established, cannot but guide all our movements on artistic lines. And this knowledge will be the basis of a perfectly beautiful life within and without.
Art, in the most effective sense of the term, is a sublime truth that draws our soul from within towards the infinite Vast.” – Sri Chinmoy. Eternity’s Breath, Agni Press, 1972.
I have already spoken of the inner influence on the divine poet. As to whether the inner beauty that comes from poetry is greater when the poet is conscious of the Higher Force or not conscious, I leave for others to decide. What I do know is that some of my earlier works, while written for the mundane, contained many lofty and sublime pieces. Still, it was only with my spiritual awakening, that I was able to recognise the depth of inner awareness, given to me on Sri Chinmoy's Path. I then realised that prior to my conscious awakening, I was unconsciously reaching for higher ideals.
My poems in the early eighties were ‘prayers’ composed to assist me in my quest for inner satisfaction. Sri Chinmoy's poetic devotions, adoration for God, and his sense of unconditional surrender to the Supreme had influenced me deeply. The grace I felt from sitting at his feet gave me the necessary enthusiasm and drive to re-commence my work.
What is a poet? There may be myriad of different ways of answering this question, but I shall present you with some of Sri Chinmoy's thoughts:
"There are three types of poets: ordinary poets, great poets and seer-poets. Ordinary poets grow like mushrooms in infinite number. The great poets are few and far between and are also known as born poets. The seer-poets are of the supreme heights. A seer is he who envisions the present, the past and the future all at once.
Poetry has three very special names: inspiration-mind, aspiration-heart and beauty-life.
God wanted to have a very, very special garden of His own. He asked His poet-son to be the gardener. He also asked the gardener to create a garden as beautiful as possible and, at the same time, as small as possible.
The poet-gardener devotedly asked God if there was any esoteric purpose for the garden to be smaller than the smallest and beautiful, more beautiful, most beautiful.
God said to His newly appointed poet-gardener, "What is poetry, if not My real Beauty? Do you not recall what My English poet-son Keats' immortal utterance is: 'A thing of Beauty is a Joy forever'? Beauty and Infinity are inseparable. I want to reveal the Infinity that I am through the finite that I equally am. Therefore, I am asking you to make Me a garden of beauty unfathomable and beauty unsurpasable."
God further said to His poet-gardener, "My son, once you have accomplished your task to My Satisfaction, I shall entrust you with another task. You will be the only flute player in My garden. Infinity's Beauty-lovers from the four corners of the globe shall visit and drink deep the beauty of our garden."
The difference between a prose writer and a poet is this:
A prose writer is a marcher. He marches and marches along Eternity's Road to arrive at Infinity's Goal.
A poet is a singer. He sings and sings along Eternity's Road to arrive at Infinity's Goal.
The prose writer has thunder-legs.
The poet has lightning-feet.
Arriving at the destination, the prose writer declares,
"I have become."
Arriving at the same destination, the poet whispers,
"I eternally am."
I have been writing prose and poetry for over half a century. I am very happily and proudly sailing in the boat of Coleridge:
"I wish our clever poets would remember ... Prose: words in their best order. Poetry: the best words in the best order." - Sri Chinmoy. Blessingful Invitations from The University-world, 1998, Agni Press.
So perhaps one can say that poetry is that which comes from within, affected by impulses from within nature and the external world. This is particularly of deep significance, as the poet utilises the sublimity of language to reach upwards to the Divine.
He may also draw from everyday experiences:
A Song to an Ice Cream Delicacy Artic Roll, Artic Roll, You are so tasty and cold! Vanilla ice cream embellishing my bowl, Supremely sweet nectar in my Soul Fulfilling my tummy's goal. For my insatiate desire, the Artic Roll tolls. - Manatita
Or compose most inspired works as a direct result of experience in meditation. Here I give you, my reader, a sense of the esoteric side.
Two Divine Sisters
They stood poised, shone bright,
One a dynamo of towering light,
The other an angel of beauty and delight.
With striking resonance, their soul-stirring voices,
Penetrated my being.
One thousand hearts did stir.
And my soul, wrapped in an ocean
Of immense enchantment;
Reposed in the melody of divine rhapsody,
Young Uma resting up on high,
Most surely did abound with joy.
While Kali gently chiselled in the whip of love,
And Sita showered blessings from above.
Pure Meera sang through them to me,
Enraptured by ananda from within.
While Mahalaksmi graced them with her wealth,
And Krishna played His flute at Heaven's gate.
Empowered by such ecstasy and bliss,
My Soul went sporting to the Golden Shore.
As inner tears and boundless peace did flow,
In sweet communion, up above, below. - Manatita.
The point here is to show that the divine poet, whether he is conscious or not conscious of the Supreme, writes primarily from a Higher intuitive reservoir of psychic energy. This naturally flows all the way from his Soul to the tips of his fingers, and indeed even to the pen itself. Thus, the Yogic poet, having a direct inner vision and perception of the Source, does infinitely better than the ordinary poet. This poet may be gifted, true, but he has not yet learned the art of drawing consciously from the Supreme Poet, his true Self.
I would now finish this writing with a poem which illustrates fully - in my view - the soul of the inspired poet as well as the poet with direct perception or embodiment of his inner Ground, the fount of poetry: the celestial Supreme:
No mind, no form, I only exist; Now ceased all will and thought; The final end of Nature's dance, I am it whom I have sought.
A realm of Bliss bare, ultimate; Beyond both knower and known; A rest immense I enjoy at last; I face the One alone.
I have crossed the secret ways of life, I have become the Goal. The Truth immutable is revealed; I am the way, the God Soul.
My spirit aware of all the heights, I am mute in the core of the Sun. I barter nothing with time and deeds; My cosmic play is done. – Sri Chinmoy.
From My Flute, No 1, Agni Press, 1972.
I trust you find this useful.
Manatita, 22nd July, 2012