How does a poet tell us what she knows? Is that what poetry is for, to convey personal knowledge? If by “knowing” we mean awareness, or the mind’s grasp of its own experiences, then perhaps that is what poetry is chiefly about. Such communication of knowledge may even be something poetry can do in a way no other art can. The sight of a hawk with the rising sun shining on its breast or a battered ocean cliff—these images linger in the poet’s mind and inspire emotion, memories, and ideas about eternity, a whole storm of mental events that occurs in a moment. The poet sings of her own experience in a short, vivid, beautiful flash of language in order to pull the reader into that same “imaginary garden.” This is how a poem represents human consciousness.
In this seminar we will study three modernist poets who were particularly interested in writing about the beauty of nature: Gerard Manley Hopkins, Robert Frost, and Marianne Moore. For each of them, the human mind in contemplation of the natural world is the place to begin, but each poet takes that exploration in quite a different direction.
To learn more about the seminar and the poetry we will discuss, read Rosemary’s blog post The Beauty of What We Don’t Know.
“As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame”
– Gerard Manley Hopkins