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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Being in the realm of the imagination.

I have seen several things that are attributed to John Keats that suggest to me that he not only had a very fortitudinous imagination; it was that creative state of mind that he seemed to truly reside in. As a poet, I often try to go there, but I truly do not live in that realm. I'm not sure that living there is particularly fitting in the world we live in today. Which of course raises the question of just how fitting it was in Keats's time? (1795-1821)

I suppose that if one were a poet and nothing else, such an existence could work. Even among many very gifted contemporary poets, I'm not sure that I identify any single instance of one who I think actually "lives" in that kind of state of mind. Thinking of poets like Robert Bly, WS Merwin, Naomi Shihab Nye, John Ashbury, Maya Angelou, Margaret Atwood or Mary Oliver... these are a few poets who I believe have very bold imaginative flashes within their work. Yet, them seem to have normal lives. I'm guessing they come back to reality everyday.

From two quotes that I will share today, I glean Keats strived if not found that realm.

"My imagination is a monastery and I am its monk." There is something that tells me that with Keats, this is not particularly a metaphorical pronouncement. I get a real powerful image of his mind in this statement and how he resides within it.


Then, Keats speaks of the truth of imagination. "I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections, and the truth of imagination." His poetics here works well for me because I firmly believe we write from a basis of truth. That truth may not necessarily reflect with 100% accuracy, historical events, but it is based on our life experiences real or imagined. Therefore those things, which are born within the mind, are truth.

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