Regifting Presence

Updated: Sep 11, 2021



Both philosophy and poetry begin in wonder, philosophy in the wonder of Being,

that there is anything at all, that the world exists and continues to exist when it is

utterly contingent; poetry emerges in the wonder of experience, which happens to us,

which is spontaneous and continuous and cannot not happen to us. Both paths

ultimately lead to the primal presence of Being. Philosophy reaches it through contemplation

and rational articulation; poetry does it through the symbolism of language. Poems use

language to re-present the presence of Being, to show that our experience is symbolic;

that it stands for something more than itself.


It is the nature of pure presence to seek out representation. Being overflows itself

toward itself. Poetry funnels the overflow into lines of verse that mimic, in their rhythm

and metaphors, the very movement of life as its passes into and through us, pulling us along,

forcing us to stop and meditate on all that is placed before us. The languages of philosophy

and poetry, when pursued correctly, lead inexorably to the language of religion. The distance between Being and the divine is as wide as an eyelash. Turn one way, and you are looking at God,

turn the other, and you behold the majesty of the universe. We know which came first, but which speaks more to us? Questions for another time, another place, at the far end of metaphor, "This is that," where is means absolute identity. Write it!, as Elizabeth Bishop says.



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