The first language of poetry is silence. All art begins with the imposing vacuum of the blank canvas. All music must spring forth from inaudible melodies. Before the truth of nature or the Divine can be grasped, the creative mind must be inclined to the vacant spaces. For one to discover meaning in shafts of sunlight shining through verdant summer leaves in a wooded glen or gain insight while winter wheat tosses about on the gray wind of a November plain, a posture of patient quietude must stands prior to the act of creation. The true poet, the true artist, the true musician must learn in the painful school of experience to sit in the terror of an uncluttered moment, purged from distraction so that from the void a new world of possibility can emerge.
Those gripped with the primordial urge to create are keenly aware that humans are hard-wired for novelty; the newness of an object or an idea that leaps out of the ordinary world taps into the primal capacity for genuine delight and the primeval urge to find meaning in the monotonous vicissitudes of everyday life. However, as with any pleasure decoupled from the transcendent Good, novelty dissolves into mere titillation. This is arrestingly apt in the age of the internet where the impulse toward the dissipative is ubiquitous. The truly new, the reality-altering irruption of the real into the present can be counterfeited by the cacophonous din of instantaneous images, of videos that masquerade as visions, of overworn ideas that bestow upon their adherents cadres of unquestioning support without any real spiritual, intellectual, or moral cost – in this endless stream of dalliance and distraction the native powers of the soul are spent and dissolved. Perhaps more than any epoch in the long history of civilization, humans face the demons of ennui, acedia, and despair with little hope beyond the passing pleasure of saccharine diversion to hold these nihilistic forces at bay.
Yet, in the silence, artists wait until the dark horizon is pregnant with a rumbling storm, possessed with the power of vision in the night, they are conduits for novelty in all its denuded power. Thunder shakes the sky and lightning rips the heavens, here musicians reach out with courage, having been taught to tremble in the void, and then the miracle happens – something new, a sound unheard is sung into the world that so many weary souls weakened by fleeting distraction desperately crave. The poet, whether consciously reliant on Holy Writ or not, hears unspoken speech, the Divine Word suffused in all things and translates these mysterious utterances into language for an otherwise deaf world. This bruised and busted world cannot withstand more than momentary glimpses into the vacant spaces because it, out of sheer terror it rages against the silence, preferring to fritter about hollow fancies than to behold the horror that the void mirrors in broken hearts
Purged of clutter, cacophony, flickering images that glitter for but a moment, the creative mind finds in the disturbing dark space the nexus of all creation and brings forth a singular explosion into the present akin to the one that birthed the universe itself. Something new and wonderful rises out of the matrix of creation that defiantly declares that no moment in time is a determination of past inertia. All creativity is an insistence on the possible. It may draw off of the past but it refuses to be confined by it. This force cracks the future open for the truly new, the shockingly spontaneous that sleeps in the soil made fertile by past discoveries that can be transfigured into something so unprecedented it would appear as if they came from out of nowhere as they break into the blossom in the realm of present experience.
It is the sacred duty of artists and musicians to innovate; imitation is the province of the copyist only capable of rote repetition. The poet is possessed of a prophetic call to invent. While the poet’s tools are as old as the world itself, all alliteration, each multivalent metaphor is much more than commentary on the past, these are the power of creation where the future itself is forged. While it is for God alone to create ex nihilo, it is for creative minds to join with the One and make out of what is what can be and what must become. In an age flooded with flaccid novelties that are nothing more than promissory notes that enable avoiding the pain of the present, the world is desperate for true artists who have trembled in the silence until they tremble no more. These souls have surrendered themselves to this painful metamorphosis so that they can bring into an ossified reality the stone-shattering of the real, which can be discovered again as if it were the very first time. Creative minds have the God-given power to dwell in the dark spaces where all possibility lurks and lift the sun over the horizon as if it were the first sky-splitting dawn that ever broke upon the earth.