What Poets Used to Know: Poetics, Mythopoesis, Metaphysics
This book contains virtually everything I’ve written on poetics and poetic tradition that is not to be found in and Shadow of the Rose or The Wars of Love and Other Poems or Day and Night on the Sufi Path or Hammering Hot Iron or Folk Metaphysics (though some excerpts from the first two books are included), as well as several pieces of “literary criticism”. This criticism takes three forms: the analysis of the function of image, music and meaning in various poems; the indication of more or less explicit metaphysical doctrines that can be found in the works of certain poets; and the metaphysical hermeneutic of mythopoesis—the practice of “making myths”—which I like to define as “stories that are always true.” I also have some things to say about poetry as a set of contemplative techniques, as well as about the fundamental elements of the craft and their use in several different poetic traditions. Poetry, as defined in this volume, is not entertainment. It is not self-expression. It is not propaganda. It is not a way for any particular group to define its identity or push its agenda. It is not an exploration of the colors and textures and odors of language in and of itself, apart from questions of meaning. It is not a celebration of terror and trivia in roughly equal amounts. Rather, it is a way of knowing based on the cultivation of symbolic or anagogic consciousness. As such, it is one of the keys to the vast and ancient Lore Hoard of the human race.