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This article is taken from PN Review 72, Volume 16 Number 4, March - April 1990.

Poems and the Mystery of Embodiment Les A. Murray

(This essay is complementary to, and completes, an earlier one titled 'Poems and Poesies', first published in the Age Monthly Review and then in an expanded form in the British journal PN Review. In that essay, I examined the mental constituents of the poetic experience and found that experience to arise from a fusion of forebrain and hindbrain thinking, that is to say, of waking mentation and that characteristic of dreaming or reverie. I suggested that this fused mode of thinking is by no means confined to the making of art, but in fact typifies all creative activity. In the vast majority of cases, it does not lead to art at all, but conditions the personal values, joys, hates, beliefs, styles and even the dwellings and occupations of people. I spoke of Marx's poem, Freud's poem, Hitler's poem, Buddha's poem and the various sub-poems and detached stanzas of these, and pointed out that while the world is ruled and constructed by a myriad poem-events of this sort, the progression all the way to final, achieved poetic utterance is rare and fateful, since it is as likely to suspend a poetic impulse as release it. An achieved poem is ever-living but beyond action, and tends to make action unnecessary. At the level of verbal utterance, I distinguished between discourse fully reflecting a poem-fusion, which I called Wholespeakand discourse more or less heavily skewed in favour of forebrain or daylight thinking. This latter I called Narrowspeak, and pointed out that as ...


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