The foremost pleasure for me of poetry, whether I read or write it, is that I live more intensely in poetry than in every day life. In fact, poetry is a pleasurable intensification of life. Whether or not there is an element of escapism in this is immaterial to me, and if there is (there probably is) it isnt primary. What’s primary is the intensity of the poetic experience—and, unlike mysticism, there is no doubt it is a full-bodied experience even if my body is inactive, supine, and really only alive so that I can have the experience, so that I can enter this unique world of poetry where the concrete dances with the abstract.
I am not looking for adventure, I’m looking for experience—but the kind of experience only poetry provides. And it is emphatically not all in my head. It’s there assuredly, but it’s also in my body, all through my body, for poetry is first and foremost of the body: body of man and body of earth, body of fact and body of fiction. It is the evidence and imaginal substance—yet substance nonetheless— as well as the distillation and intensification of our body-selves. Or of other body-selves, other concretizations of experience made substantive and intensified to that sweet point or degree where life is a meditation, one that feels eternal; where stillness and action and thought and sensation have coalesced by the power of words beyond words—to where life and death seem to be one. Because they are? And what if they are, where does that take us? Precisely where poetry takes us!? Eureka!
If poetry takes me anywhere beyond the words that are its flesh, it is, by way of emotion and intellect, to what I apparently value the highest and consider my reason for existing if I have to have one: imagination. It is on imagination and imagination alone that the intensity—a poetic intensity—with which we live swings. And so my imagination is not just my monastery (as Keats said his was), it’s also my temple, my dance hall, my bedroom, my beloved, my death, my sepulcher, my eternity.