Monday, January 2, 2012

Poetry is not, and is against, magic

Photo by Thomas Merton
I am reading Rowan Williams’ book of essays about Merton now.  Rowan is a noted critic of poetry and there is an essay about poetry, where Williams says [that Merton says] that poetry isn’t, and is against, magic.
“‘It is the businessman, the propagandist, the politician, not the poet, who devoutly believes in the magic of words.’, writes Merton, ‘for the poet, there is precisely no magic, only life in all its unpredictability and freedom.  All magic is a ruthless venture into manipulation, a vicious circle, a self-fulfilling prophecy.’  Words that ‘work’, independent of their transparency to truth, are magical words.  They live without anchorage in reality.  They exist in order to exercise power, to control or develop a situation according to the will of the speaker.”
-from "A Silent Action, Engagements with Thomas Merton", by Rowan Williams,  Fons Vitae 2011, p. 41


  1. ah...but what is truth, Mr. Merton? The maximum imagist who pounded the truth to word correspondence was Pound, who was not a purveyor of truth.

    I'm coming to the conclusion that Frost was write about non-rhyming poetry being tennis w/ the net down.

  2. Hang on, Mr. Spagets. I am going to post a poem soon that will knock your socks off. Mr. Merton finally wrote a poem where the arrow hit the target. You'll see.


God speaks

God speaks, and God is to be heard, not only on Sinai, not only in my own heart, but in the voice of the stranger. — Thomas Merton, Emble...