What is poetry about but about experiences. Thus, it entails both a subject and an object – the experiencer and the experienced; which if we may recall, is one of the dualities that have long mesmerized and perhaps taunted most philosophers and thinkers for their wish to reconcile the two despite of a seemingly inevitable failure. The self and the world – this is just another way of putting the two terms consisted in this enduring duality.
Perhaps this is where people like Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James and Arthur Schopenhauer are coming from, albeit in diverse manners and with inflections, when they attribute to poetry a certain distinction and potential. Poe, in “The Poetic Principle,” tells something about the “unity of impression” which is more achievable in shorter poems. I read this as Poe’s claiming of the most claimable truths we can have in this supposedly fragmented world that persistently evades totalization. On his part, Ralph Waldo Emerson enjoined the scholar to be “covetous of action” and to be in quest of a “variety of experiences.” Is this not the intense intercourse between self and world, without any pressure of achieving an encompassing unity, being advised by literary critics and poets even before our time? The Romantics are mostly remembered for this esteem put on poets and the partial-order to “recreate” elements of nature.
Definitely, the post-structural dispersion of incoherence and uncertainty which they try to make up for by opening the terrain for creativity and production, exerted an immense influence to the continuing negotiation between the self and the world and humanity’s overall enterprise to placate, if not make something sensible out of the latter. Having burgeoned at a time when wars have been waged among nations, people were killing one another by virtue of a creed, a race or power, the negative anxiety posed by the post-structural trend seem to expectedly overrule the positive appendage of an increased potential for creativity amidst the open-endedness.
Still, I am for according the poet the same insightful privilege given to her by the discourses that endured in previous generations. Amidst all the terrors and contradictions in a world seemingly complicating more and more with innovations and disasters coexisting with a much problematic human psyche, I believe poetry should take the cudgels and clobber the walls of illusions and delusions that cause humanity to err further at this point in time. With verses that ideally gain a certain level of recognition and eventually control over the world around us, albeit momentarily, I believe we can altogether forge ahead with a less uncertain outlook towards the world where we live. This shall not be fettered by a futile hope on attaining a consolation from an Eternal or Divine Truth that perhaps we think can finally guide and enlighten our lives. This shall be nurtured by a rose-colored attitude towards the potential for productivity and ceaseless motion and growth that will come from a contradicting yet productive bond between us, humanity and the world.