Getting a Blank Book

Getting a Blank Book July 3, 2021

The most mysterious book I own is a blank book from my birthday. This remarkable volume came with a bottle of superior ink for a pen. Allegedly, and this is a condition of the gift, I shall fill it with poetry.

I am one of the few people living to be told by a poet not to write poetry for the public. I shall not, but I can fill this blank book with the attempt. Poetry is too important for the soul to be left to those with talent (like various members of my family).

There is a discipline to poetry, at least the sort of poetry I am likely to write, that is good for my mind. This discipline is not like that of a logical argument. In an argument there might be symbols, there is certainly order, but there is rarely any beauty. There is a form to an analytic argument that allows any of us to keep on track and create a valid argument. Poetry can contain an argument, but can do so passionately. Dante is the master of this trick. The form of poetry is more rich and so more demanding. The master poet can have all the precision of language in an analytic argument and inspire a beatific vision. Dante was a master. Poetry is more versatile, but more dangerous for the writer. Any decent philosopher can produce a valid argument, but only a great poet can mix validity with persuasion as found in Paradiso. 

I can find no limits to poetry, no linguistic task is impossible. Only music, perhaps, equals poetry in bringing body, mind, and heart to a production. When music and poetry are combined in a great opera, the result is human: demonstrating our animal and human natures in perfect synthesis.

Mom once tried to get her two lunkhead children to fill a blank book with wonders about the nation of Japan. We thought her daft. As a result, we went off and missed filling a blank book together with her. I would love to own that book today! It would be better than any photograph as a picture of the jolly fun the three of us often had, but missed that day due to our willfulness.

And so I turn to the blank book and get ready to write. A warning: the first page is the hardest to fill next to the second. The first marks feel (almost) like spoiling the book and too often I try for something grand and miss out on writing anything. The second page is more difficult, because this requires discipline. The new book has lost some mystery and is already not a First Folio, priceless to history. The second page is confirmation of the common, simple, home poems likely to fill the rest of the pages.

Keep writing, truing, filling each page. Try sharing with a friend, as I am to do with these poems. Do not share them with the world. . . These are homely beauties that would be cheapened by exposure!

Nearly anyone can procure (or make!) a blank book. Each line awaits the fulfillment of words, carefully chosen, earnestly felt. I am going to try to make the mysterious book commonplace: filled with my attempts.


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