POETRY AND LIFE
=Poetry defined.=—Poetry has been defined as “a message from the heart of the artist to the heart of the man”; and, seeing that the heart is the center and source of life, it follows that poetry is a means of effecting a transfusion of life. The poet ponders life long and deeply and then gives forth an interpretation in artistic form that is surcharged with the very quintessence of life. The poet absorbs life from a thousand sources—the sky, the forest, the mountain, the sunrise, the ocean, the storm, the child in the mother’s arms, and the man at his work, and then transmits it that the recipient may have a new influx of life. The poet’s quest is life, his theme is life, and his gift to man is life. His mission is to gain a larger access of life and to give life in greater abundance. He gains the meaning of life from the snowflake and the avalanche; from the grain of sand and the fertile valley; from the raindrop and the sea; from the chirp of the cricket and the crashing of the thunder; from the firefly and the lightning’s flash; and from Vesuvius and Sinai. To know life he listens to the baby’s prattle, the mother’s lullaby, and the father’s prayer; he looks upon faces that show joy and sorrow, hope and despair, defeat and triumph; and he feels the pulsations of the tides, the hurricane, and the human heart.
=How the poet learns life.=—He sits beside the bed of sickness and hears the feeble and broken words that tell of the past, the present, and the future; he visits the field of battle and sees the wreckage of the passions of men; he goes into the dungeon and hears the ravings and revilings of a distorted soul; he visits pastoral scenes where peace and plenty unite in a song of praise; he rides the mighty ship and knows the heartbeats of the ocean; he sits within the church and opens the doors of his soul to its holy influences; he enters the hovel whose squalor proclaims it the abode of ignorance and vice; he visits the home of happiness where industry and frugality pour forth their bounteous gifts and love sways its gentle scepter; and he sits at the feet of his mother and imbibes her gracious spirit.
=Transfusion of life.=—And then he writes; and as he writes his pen drips life. He knows and feels, and, therefore, he expresses, and his words are the distillations of life. His spiritual percipience has rendered his soul a veritable garden of emotions, and with his pen he transplants these in the written page. And men see and come to pluck the flowers to transplant again in their own souls that they, too, may have a garden like unto his. His elan carries over into the lives of these men and they glow with the ardor of his emotions and are inspired to deeds of courage, of service, and of solace. For every flower plucked from his garden another grows in its stead more beautiful and more fragrant than its fellow, and he is reinspired as he inspires others. And thus in this transfusion of life there is an undertow that carries back into his own life and makes his spirit more fertile.