Tuesday, 22 December 2015

The Pessimism of the Poet

“That simultaneously discredited and privileged being we call a poet goes among men with a profound sense of sadness. As soon as he opens his eyes to the light of the sun he looks around for something to admire; he sees nature ever young and beautiful and is overwhelmed with divine ecstasy and inexpressible rapture; but soon inert creation ceases to satisfy him. The true poet is passionately drawn to God and God’s works; but it’s in himself and in his like that he sees the flame of eternal light burning for him most distinctly and most completely. He wants to find it there unadulterated and to worship God in man as a sacred flame on a spotless altar. His soul yearns, his arms open wide; so great is his need for love he would willingly tear open his breast if it would allow every object of his deep desire and his chaste affection to become part of him; but his clear eye, his searching gaze can’t fail to discern human baseness and the work of centuries of corruption. It pierces the outer covering and sees sham souls in magnificent bodies, hearts of clay in marble and gold statues. Then he grieves, rebels, complains and remonstrates. The heavens that granted him this penetrating vision endowed him too with a deep, resounding voice, both for lamentation and for thanksgiving, for prayer and for threats, which imprudently betrays the extent of his anguish. The world’s shortcoming draw from him cries of distress; the spectacle of hypocrisy burns his eyes with red-hot irons; the sufferings of the oppressed stimulate his courage, audacious sympathies seethe in his breast. The poet raises up his voice and tells men truths they would rather not hear.”
(George Sand, Lettres D'un Voyageur)

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