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What is the importance of Poetry?

Updated on January 3, 2013
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G.K. Chesterton said that: "Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do." ~G.K.C Orthodoxy

This is true. Do we ever hear of any poets going insane? Who is a poet anyhow and what is the purpose to poetry? G.K. Chesterton said it well again when he stated how poetry is like a medicine to a disease, especially the disease of the mind. For: "Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion...To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain."

Our minds cannot know all things, yet it has been given the grace to come to know and reason through things. Dogs cannot do this nor can a rock. This is what makes us unique. We are ourselves a wonderous mystery yet unfolded. Each person is precious and unique, with many talents, powers and beauties given to each specifically. We all admire the grand beauties of the earth, the Grand Canyon, the Swiss Alps, the Pacific Ocean, the Amazon Forest, etc., but how often do we ever contemplate man? Man is so unique that not only can he admire these beautiful things, but he can use his gift of reason and write about it. Thus, the poet does not try to get our minds "wrap around" as it were, but to bring us into the many mysterious beauties of life, of man, and the unseen! Why do you think it is then that so much poetry has been written on LOVE? Love is such a mystery, it is not seen, it is so beautiful, so powerful, etc. Everything is not a science that can be worked out in a lab: everything is not a math problem that can be written and solved. Life is more than a book can tell as a narrative of facts of some recorded history. Poetry does not lay it all out for you, it is like a story never finished that just seems to keep flowing. It is the same with life, it is ever moving! Poetry does not seek to finish, but to get started. Poetry is swimming and bathing in that depth of mystery, soaking in all beauty and grace. Poetry raises the mind and brings us into such contemplation, such admiration, of the great grandeur and mystery that man lives and that man is. As Luigi Giussani states: "Man is a mystery suspended from the Will of God." Truly, poetry is far from fantasy and make-belief, poetry because of its depth, light, and seeking, is just bringing us more and more into reality of what really is and what really is true!

Thank God for the poet and for such poetry! For with it we can come into this deeper understanding and love!


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