12. Interpretation

  ¦it is a plea for this; that those who have to endure the common lot of life, who cannot go where they would, whose leisure is but a fraction of the day, before the morning’s toil and after the task is done, whose temptation it is to put everything else away except food and sleep and work and anxiety, not liking life so but finding it so;”it is a plea that such as these should learn how experience, even under cramped conditions, may be finely and beautifully interpreted, and made rich by renewed intention. Because the secret lies hid in this, that we must observe life intently, grapple with it eagerly; and if we have a hundred lives before us, we can never conquer life till we have learned to ride above it, not welter helplessly below it. And the crampedand restricted life is all the grander for this, that it gives us a nobler chance of conquest than the free, liberal, wealthy, unrestrained life.

    — Benson, Joyous Gard I, Artist  

One thing that strikes me about the Benson’s ideas in the book Joyous Gard is his suggestion that poetry might not yet be the lyrical words themselves but rather a view of a life that we all possess. He tells us, for example, that common words can hardly describe the rather common feelings of romantic love. He tells us that in love, we are inclined — all of us — to reach for song or poetry in order to fully paint our joy, an indication that our feelings may exceed our own ability to describe them.  

Whether we ever settle on words to adequately describe such a feeling of love, our witness of the grand feeling – according to Benson — is itself poetry. Poetry is not, therefore, that which meets the paper but rather the feelings that precede them. And in that light, we are all poets.   

Day 12 Guide 

You might live in cramped conditions. Maybe you think that in your life there is only time for work and sleep. But God created the universe by principles of beauty that we all have a right to seek and possess.  

© 2006, Levi Hill

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