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The First Poet
I came across this quote from C. Day Lewis (the father of the famous actor) who is describing what poetry is and does:

“A way of using words to say things which could not possibly be said in any other way, things which in a sense do not exist till they are born…in poetry.”

I think this very apt and true. And true no matter what form that poetry takes, whether song, portions of script, or prose. The poetic is able to capture feelings, moods, moments, even time itself, and communicate those aspects in ways that bring them to life in the reader or hearer. We are transported in those moments.

I was especially struck by the creative aspect—not in the sense of artistically, but in the sense of bringing forth something that did not exist. Unless one is an alchemist or magician, we can change, fashion, and transform the material, but not call it into existence. As to the material, we only discover, change, or fashion what was already present in atoms and molecules/energy.

An idea however, a fictional place, scene, or character, is brought into existence. The idea or character may be based upon or revealed in a material reality, or derivative of other ideas or characters, but it still retains a sort of independent existence that was not prior, like the material or physical. There are many stories about and characters based on young boys, but there is only one Tom Sawyer.

There are many types of country western songs, where there are many similarities, like the chords used, meter, key, voicing, instruments used, and so on. However, there is something about “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” or “Crazy” that just do not exist in other songs. And this aspect goes beyond just the level of talent, skill, or ability inherent in the song, song writer, musicians, or singer.

The same is true of any musical genre. A song is like other songs, but it is not those other songs. There is something about the poetic that is unique to each creation, in the sense of, while it is similar to other poetic pieces, it has its own existence and integrity. The author, the creator, brought it forth. Before, it did not exist. Now, it does.

We might think, but it is fiction—it isn’t “real.” I would suggest it is even more “real” (see previous posts) than an atom or molecule. How? Because anything created that touches on truth, goodness, or beauty is eternal. It reflects something that existed before the material and informs, suspends, and explains the material. Thus, it is more “real” if you will. A patch of dirt will not make us laugh or cry, but a poem, story, or song about a patch of dirt might do either. This makes the poetic the more substantive reality.                   

Isn’t this what God did? Isn’t creation, existence, —a poem? Except God is able to bring even the material into existence out of nothing, but still make it poetic as we “read” it, experience it, in the sunrise, sunset, waterfall, or rainbow. What is the night sky, with its hanging diamonds, sparks of light, and milky haze, but a poem. Being made in the image of God, we do the same with the poetic or any of the areas we put under the umbrella of the creative arts. And, perhaps this applies even to science or any endeavor.

God was the first poet and we are all poets in our own ways. We can’t help it—it is what we are and do. Anything we do that touches on truth, goodness, and beauty is a poem (no matter what form it takes) that calls into existence aspects of those three that did not exist before and these will continue to exist, even though the heavens fall. 

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