The Waking Vision

Without an object of desire, he could
face down the flames of aurora borealis.
He became a poet of weather now
and carved his name on clouds.

The poles of sun and moon informed this,
his final art in a landscape of enticement.
His sense of world came from within
and he knew no cares of other.

The propositions of dream could replace
the latitudes of nuanced love.
The compensation of words
became charts of imagination.

His mind would grow large
like the stars in a living poem.
That which he loved and could value
was everything he had imagined.

Things were now as they were seen.
No longer man of flesh and bone,
he drew his breath from all of this,
the grand thoughts of re-formed experience.


Life in “The Living Poem” cont’d.  Beyond it, actually–life and writing being process after all. This piece began as something of a response to reading Wallace Stevens’ poems some 25 years ago. There is also something of “And so lately” in it. (cf stanza 2).

“I am large, I contain multitudes.”–Walt Whitman. Well we do. And things definitely become interesting, as in the previous poem, when the ‘outside’ had been internalized and apprehended and understood, and when life is lived more centrally from and balanced with ‘inside.’ 

Of course, as Berkeley pointed out, nothing is perceived or really exists without someone to perceive or apprehend it. All matter is, in his sense, mental or spiritual. The life of sensations Keats worshipped and lived for as internalized and then expressed by the writer or artist.

Whatever audacity you may read between the lines or the poem’s tone owes something to Stevens. This is, though, above all, a poem about human and individual  possibilities. Our dreams may very well come true sometimes and the truths of our experience will assert and express themselves without the need of others, as in the previously mentioned Dickinson poem.

This poem is ultimately about vision and the importance of seeing ‘through’ (as in mental breakthroughs) not just ‘with’ our eyes, as Blake put it. Or as I wrote in the previous poem “the peacock’s feather/an eye upon the world”–any one (or individual)eye will do! Ah, the truths of imagination, from within, of writing, of our own creations and doing!

As a footnote, if you want to read more about eyes, vision, and seeing, then treat yourself to a (re)read of Dickinson’s poems. Perhaps the greatest literary exploration ever of image meets vision.

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