To bring that tiger you’re desiring, fearing,
You place your own self in the clearing,
Tied to a tree, chained at the throat,
A monk who hopes, hopeless and lowly,
A tethered goat,
You bleat your prayers, and wait.
Your offer (“offer” is an offering,
An animal, coin, weapon, ring…
Even yourself, for you are an oblate…
“Offer” is “sacrifice”, “sacrifice” is “make holy”)
Your offer, your self-sacrifice, is still
“Take me, and pay me what you will.”
Begging for the orgasmic lightning bolt
That gods blast blindly towards heath and holt,
You make yourself into a lightning rod
On some high tower to catch those blasts of god.
American poet Randall Jarrell defined a poet as “a man who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or six times.” Indeed, to be known to posterity for five or six poems is a wonderful achievement – although hopefully you were also doing other worthwhile and fulfilling things with your life. Tennyson, Dickinson, Yeats, Cummings… they may have written hundreds of poems, but very few remain widely known – the average well-read citizen would have a hard time naming more than two or three poems by each.
The artistic sensibility (including the musical, poetic, etc) is very similar to the religious one. For most, the lightning strikes are strictly personal and the payoffs from devotion, openness and sacrifice are largely intangible; but they give a powerful charge, a feeling of the essential within yourself and an understanding of connection to the whole universe.
Photo: ‘Lightning in the Western Sahara’ by Hugo! is licensed under WordPress Openverse.