Golden poverty

Federico Garcia Lorca, “Imagination, Inspiration, Evasion,” circa 1928:

The mechanics of poetic imagination are always the same: a concentration, a leap, a flight, a return with the treasure, and a classification and selection of what has been brought back. The poet dominates his imagination and sends it wherever he wants. When he is not happy with its services he punishes it and sends it back, just as the hunter punishes the dog who is too slow in bringing him the bird. Sometimes the hunt is splendid, but the most beautiful birds and the brightest lights almost always get away….

Visible reality, the facts of the world and of the human body, are much more full of subtle nuances, and are much more poetic than what imagination discovers. One notices this often in the struggle between scientific reality and imaginative myth, in which—thank God—science wins. For science is a thousand times more lyrical than any theogony….

The poet strolls through his imagination, limited by it. He hears the flowing of great rivers. His forehead feels the cool of the reeds that tremble in the midst of nowhere. He wants to hear the dialogue of the insects beneath the boughs. He wants to penetrate the current of the sap in the dark silence of great tree trunks. He wants to understand the Morse alphabet spoken by the heart of the sleeping girl.

He wants. We all want. But this is his sin: to want. One shouldn’t want, one should love. And so he fails. Because when he tries to express the poetic truth of any of these motifs, he will have to make use of plastic analogies that will never be sufficiently expressive, for the imagination cannot reach those depths.

As long as he does not try to free himself from the world, the poet can live happily in his golden poverty…. Poetry doesn’t need skilled practitioners, she needs lovers, and she lays down brambles and shards of glass for the hands that search for her with love.

Comments are closed.