Spelling … of a kind

Poetry is a form of magic, and every word we put on paper is a kind of spell. … Magic is for healing, and the poet is healed in the act of writing, but the poem changes the world, too … (The Rag Tree, in The Romance of the Long-Distance Poet)

In quoting these two brief passages from a single piece – joined and separated by the three dots to which I seem so attached – I have drawn out a single thread from what is a richly-woven piece, a sleeve on which its writer’s heart might safely be pinned.

Even as I write these words, a mad tangle of knitted and knotted notions comes to mind; but my instinct is to call up a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins: Spelt from Sibyl’s Leaves … and from there to leap nimbly into comments Ben Belitt made about it: “… the poem aims at the binding of a spell rather than the dispelling of a riddle. The answers, like the riddle itself, will be recondite, delphic, and multiple: they will tantalize even while they divulge. Thus, the ‘spelling’ is at once a lettering and an incantation …”

You might like to take a look at the Ben Belitt essay, Hopkins Transforming: “It Changed Beautiful Changes”.

Belitt, Ben. 1995. The forgéd feature: toward a poetics of uncertainty: new and selected essays. New York, NY: Fordham University Press. [p266]

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