The German poet, theologian, and philosopher Novalis, a leading figure of European Romanticism, wrote these words about the poet’s identity: “Poets and priests were at first the same thing; they were separated only in later ages. But the true poet has always remained a priest, as the true priest has remained a poet. Shouldn’t we recuperate this old state of things?” I have loved poetry since I was a little girl, and am privileged to teach and write today, and I cannot but agree with Novalis. For me there was always something sacred in poetry.
Poetry helps us describe reality with the eyes of the soul. Poetry is the breath of life. It is heaven descending on earth. Poetry is to talk with God. Poetry is the silence of God. Only through poetry can we describe the beauty that surrounds us, the beauty of creation and of love.
Poetry is not simple language. Poetry is the dawn, strawberries with cream, the wind blowing through the hair, a kiss, silk, two people who love each other, blueberries, pleasure, Chagall, the sunset, a flake of satin, a butterfly, popcorn, to cuddle, a child’s foot, words of love, the moon, to talk with God, a smile, a dance step, the stars, a dream, a yes, the sun, tango, a strike, red wine, a tulip, a tickle, a hug, a hand meeting another hand, to run until exhaustion, music, ice-cream, flowers, a white screen, Friday night at the movies, eyes, roller coasters, New York, Bach, car racing, art, a shiver, the sea, the cross, a mother’s breast, cherries, snow, perfume, to talk with friends, Botticelli’s Venus, ballerinas, a park bench.
Poetry helps touch infinitude, to feel alive amidst the immensity of the universe, to know the largeness of our soul: a reality too deep to be just earthly. There is a piece of infinitude, of heaven, of God inside us. The God who one day made himself man and descended on earth to die on the cross and offer us life: through that blood the most beautiful poetry of all history was crafted, because in that gesture of love was written my name and your name. There were all the hope and beauty of a new life in that sacrifice: you are the poetry of God.
I can’t describe God except through poetry. When I look at You I live the dream of the star that breathes charm. Poetry helps me talk with God and about God: poetry is sacred. The poet is, after all, a priest.
Federica Gramiccia is a poet and writer in Rome, Italy. She blogs at Fragili Pensieri Estemporanei.