Body and Mind
“Look, I’m not trying to be the ‘administrator’ here,” he says. He tells me that a student of mine has complained. This student felt uncomfortable with last week’s homework assignment: Attend a stranger’s funeral.
After striking the cranium the bullet was moving at 900 feet per second, a pathetically sluggish, glacial pace compared to the synaptic lightning that flashed around it. Once in the brain, that is, the bullet came under the mediation of brain time, which gave Anders plenty of leisure to contemplate the scene that, in a phrase he would have abhorred, “passed before his eyes.”
David Mason On The Power Of Poetry
But getting back to your question about poetry and prose: Poetry, by moving from line to line, can create shades of meaning that prose can’t. So, whatever else it’s worth, poetry is valuable because it gives us a different experience of language. It gives us an experience that we cannot have by other means. And without that, we live a more impoverished life. I’ve been as moved by novels as I have been by poems, but I’ve been moved by poems in a different way. I’ve been brought to laughter and tears by a different route.
At every moment, behind the most efficient-seeming adult exterior, the whole world of the person’s childhood is being carefully held like a glass of water bulging above the brim.
David Hinton On The Wisdom Of Ancient Chinese Poets
There’s a Wang Wei poem in which an egret standing at the edge of a stream flutters up and then settles back down. That’s it. In the West we think there’s something missing, that there should be more to the poem. But if you remember that heart and mind are the same, then you realize that this perception, this experience of empty mind perceiving with mirror-like clarity, is also an emotional experience. It’s both the observation of the scene and the feeling evoked by the scene at the same time, the two together filling us completely.