Supreme development

Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development,
invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears. Melancholy
is thus the most legitimate of all the poetical tones.

Edgar Allan Poe, 1809-1849
in the Essay The Philosophy of Composition

(Tales, Sketches and Selected Criticism here)

I rather want to protest “the most legitimate …” – though one hardly dares, given the tragedies the poet endured – but, anyway, a bit of reflection sees truth here, too. It is often, indeed, in moments of melancholy that I’m most keenly attuned to beauty’s being beauty because, by whatever hand or means, it has, precisely, undergone “supreme development” – and yes, sight, scent, hearing, touch or taste of that kind of creation does move me to tears. And I’m always – afterwards if not immediately – profoundly grateful for that.

The English poet Ted Hughes, writing for children, in Poetry in the Making, about his The Thought-Foxsaid:

And I suppose that long after I am gone, as long
as a copy of the poem exists, every time anyone
reads it the fox will get up somewhere out in
the darkness and come walking towards them.

So, you see, in some ways my fox is better than an
ordinary fox. It will live forever, it will never
suffer from hunger or hounds. I have it with me
wherever I go. And I made it. And all through
imagining it clearly enough and finding the living
words.

Ted Hughes

I wonder what any of us, in moments of melancholy, moved to tears, might find ourselves “imagining … clearly enough and finding the living words” for? The “Divine Word”, the poets, and – yes – melancholy sometimes, are calling us to co-creation: to “supreme development”. Life’s about getting down to it!

4 thoughts on “Supreme development

  1. I see evocative images everywhere (figuratively and literally)…I weep when I see its beauty, its pain – and always with wonder. I think as I get older, I find more wonder than I did before…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. … which wonderfully keeps us forever young on the inside eh? One of my favourite books is titled “This Sunrise of Wonder” – it always makes me think of being rooted to the spot watching sunrise over Jerusalem, and on another occasion over Galilee. Yes: wonder, awe, beauty and tears all do their work in us together. Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

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