Today in my poetry class we talked some about the notion of patience. Rather, the conversation started because we were discussing a quote from T.S. Eliot,

"There are many people who appreciate the expression of sincere emotion in verse, and there is a smaller number of people who can appreciate technical excellence. But very few know when there is expression of significant emotion, emotion which has its life in the poem and not in the history of the poet."

The question in order then: How do you create something beautiful and meaningful without sounding trite, forced or trivial? As much as I would like to say to myself; "self, today we will write a meaningful poem about nostalgia and memory and happiness, and we will address it in line 8 and wrap it up nicely by line 12." That will simply never happen, unless, I suppose, if I am hired by hallmark. But really, that's not why or how I would like to write poetry. There are some things I have been working on for two years, and they are still crap. Does that discourage me? Yes, even greatly at times. But then I remember a poem my professor read at a reading, it took her nearly 10 years to write. At the reading I was sitting on the foyer floor with my back against the wall because I'd come a couple minutes late and I just couldn't stand walking into a reading late, I followed along in her book as she read, and when she got to that one, she explained how it had taken her so long to write, how it wasn't really about what she had thought it was, and would she have left it in an original state, it would have meant little to anyone in that room, or any reader of the book in any other part of the world. As she read the poem, that significant emotion hit me like a cold and comforting wind. I was grateful for patience and for difficult things.

In relation to poetry, or creation of anything, really anything, I've been thinking a lot about something that I learned as a missionary. I remember arriving in my 2nd and 3rd areas and feeling aghast with myself at my lack of love and enthusiasm for the people. I was a missionary and I was supposed to instantly adore and embrace them with my sincere love. Of course to some degree I did love them and want to serve them, I felt the spirit of hope and potential, but also, sometimes I felt annoyed when we had to sit on a ward member or investigators couch and listen to them talk about financial woes, or over-indulgent stories about sickness. Also though, I remember at one point, after a couple months of being in my second area, I was at the back of the congregation in church looking at all the people ahead of me, and I sincerely loved them.

It was a significant emotion because it took all my energy, patience and work. I think there is so much value in time, in a world with little time. In a world where instantaneous reaction, love and understanding is expected, I think we sometimes forget the beauty in taking 2 years to write a seven lined poem that means something to you, in investing in a person while they show you they are not perfect, in taking a long walk in the woods.

1 comment:

lia said...

this is very much something i needed to read this afternoon, and i think you're so right in so many ways. perhaps life is about the slowness, the lengthening and contraction of time that takes so much patience but feels so difficult to understand in our limited perception of being in the present... (does that even make sense?)
when i was younger, i remember thinking about art (visual, literary, poetry) as something that took an enormous amount of time to create, and that a painting, for example, couldn't be good unless it had taken years to complete. i don't know that time has to equate with quality in every aspect, but the layers of understanding that accumulate over years, and the patience of letting something as deep and as pure as love really grow and root within us is something we should probably be working every day to learn.