I had thought there were two phases of writing poetry, but now I find there are at least three.
In the first phase, I tried to write what would please other people and fit their perception of “good”. In the second, I wrote to please myself and satisfy my own definition of good. This third phase is writing to honor beauty itself and express something good beyond the limitations of myself and others. These are poems who purpose is to offer beauty a home, a place to shine. Since it is not judged by normal standards, it must be that it judges me, and shows me new things even as I bring it into being.
Metaphorically speaking, a man might choose a certain woman because society approves of her; then he might choose someone based on his own tastes; and then he may meet someone who teaches him about what is worthy in a mate. Desire itself – our very love of beauty! – can blind us, because it measures each object according to its own standard.
Therefore, one writes until his own work takes him to new places. To do this, he must free his inspiration both from his own self and others. His effort becomes a dialog between the mysteries in himself – which he knows in few ways better than art – and the Mystery that gives purpose to this whole charade: the essences of lover and beloved finding contact in a point of communion such as poetry.
I find this third state expressed in the following prayer:
Show us the right way, that is, honor us with the love of Thine Essence, that we may be freed from turning toward ourselves and toward all else save Thee, and may become wholly Thine, and know only Thee, and see only Thee, and think of none save Thee.
In another place it says, “These are they who see with His eyes, hear with His ears…” How does one create art and see it with His eyes – with the eyes of Beauty itself – rather than the eyes culture and education have given us? What form of creation will serve Beauty and teach us in doing so what we haven’t learned about its higher forms?
If it needs profound honesty to admit to what one truly likes despite the norms of society, it must require stepping out of the way entirely to reveal things we ourselves may not initially like. How do we know if it’s really good and not just our imagination? It’s possible we might never know.
I’m not sure at this point how such “minor revelation” works – in this case revealing beauty through poetic forms – but it seems a decidedly mystical process, and perhaps involves many of same stages one goes through in that discipline. Perhaps the pursuit of art is even a symbolic form of that essential exercise.