Friday, December 16, 2011

Music of the Sky: An Anthology of Spiritual Poetry by Patrick Laude, Barry McDonald

What do we mean when we refer to "spiritual poetry"? On the surface of things, we might say that all poems which are about God may be considered spiritual poetry, and this is true enough. Nevertheless, it seems that some additional precisions may help to clarify the subject. In the West we have settled upon the word "God" to name that Absolute Reality which is both the central object and the central subject of man’s spiritual life.

The anthology which you hold in your hands contains poems from many different religious traditions; this is because "sages call the One Reality by many names" (Rig Veda, 1.164.46) and we would not presume to limit this Reality to the province of one religious tradition. The editors of this book are at home in the Truth and Beauty which is found in the richest vein of every revelation.

Although many books have been written about the meaning of poetry, since the advent of modernism early in the last century, most students of literature are quite willing to believe that a poem can take on just about any form imaginable. From surrealism to objectivism, we have seen many literary movements come and go. In all of them experimentation is admired, and originality is prized. Words are reveled in for their own sake, and every subject becomes fair game for the poet’s arrow.

Even translators of the poetry written by great saints and sages of the past, such as Rumi and Mirabai, seek to recast the intense rhymes and regular meters of the originals into a language which is more in conformity with contemporary blank verse, and some of these translators have gone so far as to suggest that the most appropriate medium for spiritual poetry is found in the informal and colloquial tones of modern American English. We thank the translators for making a good deal of these spiritual writings available to a wider reading public; however, we have a very different vision of what constitutes a fully integral definition of poetry, especially "spiritual" poetry.



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