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CZ.com | Articles | The Idea of Poetry as the Visible Rainbow
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The Idea of Poetry as the Visible Rainbow
By Carolyn Zonailo

west coast imagisme

     Here, a west coast imagism, imagisme. Not that it is necessary, but available, just as the native art of the coast used the available materials, the available images—the spirit of place reflected in the inhabitant's psyche. My soul is growing here, rooted in the rain forest, along the rocky coastline, on the line. The image continues to take root in the particular environment but grows to such dimension it becomes universal. To use the image as a metaphor for the method of composition, as in my poem:

this description
image on image
vertebra on vertebra
forms a kind of
skeleton
spinal cord
to the poem

it doesn't end
with an image
but begins here:
anemone, red tulip
bone

as a tongue reaches
inside a mouth
as thighs make room
spread to allow
a lover

to allow

by Carolyn Zonailo
from "The Offering"


     The anemone in the vase or the blood of Adonis in the ancient myth; the carcass of the horse in the island forest or the winged horse, poetry; the red tulips in Sylvia Plath's hospital room or these spring flowers...the images begin in the poem and the poem has its beginnings in these images, as if blooming in foreign soil which is also somehow familiar. The image carries with it more than momentary detail. The image has to be accurate and can't help but be accurate. Truth has become an anachronism and beauty is often accused of being naive but accuracy allows us to identify. The image identifies phenomenal reality. The image is an intermediary between the object and the subject. Through the image the object is able to be recognized for what it is, distinct from the observer's subjective bias, but not separate.

the notion of romantic love

     Since the goddess presiding over the activity of poetry as soul-making is Psyche, it's not surprising that Eros, Psyche's lover and mate, plays a part in the creative process. Some poets are moralists, some are martyrs, some are visionaries and some are what I would call sensualists, although tradition has perhaps called them 'romantics'. Moralist poets include Pound, Wordsworth, Browning, Olson. Among the famous Martyrs are Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Shelley and Plath. The great Visionaries include Blake, Whitman, H.D., Yeats. The Sensualists are Donne, Mallarme, Coleridge, Keats, Stevens, Rilke....

     When we come face to face with the sensualists we are unable to escape from the notion of love, and hence the reality of death, eros and thanatos. According to Erich Neumann in Armor and Psyche, after Psyche becomes a goddess there is an incredible change in human consciousness: "The triumph of Psyche's love and her ascension to Olympus were an event that has profoundly affected western mankind for 2000 years. For two millenniums the mystery phenomenon of love has occupied the center of psychic development, and of culture, art and religion."

     In a sensualist poetics the phenomenal world is the one we begin with, just as the poem begins with the image. The creative process includes identification and recognition, just as Psyche went through the process of discovering her love for Eros. Through the poem we identify and recognize the world, and this leads us to love the world. Psyche was first of all human and mortal—then she became divine. She was not a god born into mortality as Christ was, but the other way around. A poetics presided over by Psyche is a poetics in which the soul is born from the physical, material world. We don't have to transcend or destroy our mortality to become divine. The dualities of phenomenon & numen, physical & metaphysical, reality & dream, necessity & desire stand side by side, as do Eros and Psyche. The need for a monotheist, monopolizing "oneness" can be replaced with an acceptance of the diversity, duality and polymorphous actuality of phenomenal existence.


  Carolyn Zonailo
Poetry Canada Review
Fall 1987

Copyright by Carolyn Zonailo: www.carolynzonailo.com, 2004.

 
 
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CZ.com | Articles | The Idea of Poetry as the Visible Rainbow
 
 
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