When I am in recovery from illness, in this case complications of a blood disorder plus a sinus infection thrown in for extra humility, I feel dulled in the brain and in the senses. I look for something to bring me back to life; something that encourages me to restart my five senses and engage as fully as possible in my environment. Poetry is frequently the fuel that gets me started.
In a wonderful collection called "A Book of Luminous Things" edited by Czeslaw Milosz, I found this poem by Walt Whitman. Although I am usually attracted to poetry that is postmodern and that struggles with definitions of reality and form, I find this poem to be a refreshing alternative. Described by Milosz as "a programmatic and unfinished poem," it asserts that our senses are indeed a trustworthy path to experiencing that which is real. I find it optimistic and very human. Just what I need right now.
I AM THE POET
I am the poet of reality
I say the earth is not an echo
Nor man an apparition;
But that all the things seen are real.
I have split the earth and the hard coal and rocks and the solid bed
of the sea
And went down to reconnoitre there a long time,
And bring back a report,
And I understand that those are positive and dense every one
And that what they seem to the child they are
[And that the world is not joke,
Nor any part of it a sham].