Poetry – Philosophy – Religion

There is this situation, or maybe constellation is a better word for it, which really interests me; it has to do with the relationship between art, philosophy and religion.

Ars Poetica V (personal lyric, cont.) – or: why you all should go ahead and read Gregory Orr

Gregory Orr calls personal lyric a gift – given since time immemorial to members of a culture to help them (us) survive emotional crisis.

Culture has also given us other survival strategies, such as philosophy & religion. In both the self is assisted by being subsumed into a larger order (conceptual in philosophy, divine in religion).

What distinguishes poetry (understood as the personal lyric) according to Orr, is that it clings to embodied being. The personal lyric says to the self in its suffering:

I will not abandon you, nor will I ask you to abandon yourself and the felt truth and particulars of your experience.

Rather than transcendence instructed by philosophy or religion, the personal lyric urges the self to TRANSLATE ITS WHOLE BEING INTO LANGUAGE where it can dramatize and re-establish itself in the patterned language of the poem.


In the words of Wordsworth we can call it: sensuous incarnation.

and then, also this:

Some readers have a higher threshold for disorder and need more disordering in the poems they read. Others have a lower threshold and need a larger proportion of order to disorder in the poems that give them pleasure or that resonate meaningfully with their own experiences. The essential point is that for a poem to move us it must bring us near our own threshold. We must feel genuinely threatened or destabilized by the poem’s vision of disordering, even as we are simultaneously reassured and convinced by its orderings

p. 55



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