Poetry: A Way of Getting at Truth

Truth is in many ways elusive. If it were a weasel, poetry is not a weasel-catcher, although poetry demands a certain truthfulness. Can truth ever be “caught?” Or is it a quantum-like issue, where, if “caught,” it becomes no longer true? This view of truth changes the idea that religious dogma is “truth.” Since dogma by its nature is a way of trying to “catch” or pin down truth to limited perimeters, it cannot be truly truth.

Although it is an art, meaning an “invented” thing, the best poetry rings true. That is, one connects with it, without necessarily knowing why. It is often ambiguous, even not obviously sensible. Freed from the necessity of being sensible, poetry can give us a window to the truth by presenting the surprise elements that make everyday life more meaningful. “Meaningful” being a word that encompasses, among other things, that which is true. In this case, truth means something that has value to a person, that one’s innate sense and intuitive logic feels right about. Or finds value in.

We say, “I want to be surprised.” We want a poem to take us out of our plodding dogmas and into a world of discovery and newness, where we reconnect with the value of things. We want a poem to enhance our sense of value in life, in ourselves, in our world. We want it to bring us closer to the source code, the grail, that which is most valuable, the truth. That ambiguous, elusive, strongly felt and sensed, but hard to say or express, hit of connectedness with what really counts. Even if it is a moment of laughter. Who said truth has to be dour? Or joyful? Or any particular thing? Who wants it to be pinned down?


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