Poetic Living

From the Preface to Selected Poems, by Arthur Davison Ficke (1926):

The meaning of poetry, and the secret of the imaginative life of the poets, is quite simple. The poet has always believed that the almost unattainably wise and inspired way of living is, first to fortify the soul with rigid individualism, and then to approach each event and each personality and each emotion as a thing neither good nor evil, but as a phenomenon that is curious, glittering, inexplicable, worthy of wonder or joy or terror. In that thrill of naive recognition, in that instant of interpretive imagination, the soul feels all of life that can be felt and knows all of life that can be known. There comes to every man a moment when he grows infinitely weary of the pompous confusion and cruel ignorance which is so elaborately organized to constitute human society―a moment when the heart is aware that the collective judgment of mankind is merely the brutal roaring of the loudest voices, and that this corrupt oracle can never by any chance be as wise as the whispers of the individual soul. At such a moment, in a profound repudiation of all the intricacies of forms and faiths, the heart quietly turns back to its own intuitions as to a guide more trustworthy than all the parliaments of man. It is at this level of solitary experience that poetry may be born.

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