Handling Intense Emotion

I recently posted about intense feelings and quoted the following poem by Marianne Moore.  Today I want to emphasize one line from this poem, “He who feels strongly behaves.”  Intense emotion is often an excuse to not behave and indeed tense emotion at times makes “behaving” impossible.

Shakespeare said of one of his characters, “He cannot buckle his distempered cause within the belt of rule.’  “Distempered cause” refers to a basic life force which I construe to mean energy or feeling.  Shakespeare was saying that regardless of how we feel we must keep it within “the belt of rule”  I think art and music are two means whereby this intense emotion is kept within the “belt of rule”

What Are Years?
By Marianne Moore
What is our innocence,
what is our guilt? All are
naked, none is safe. And whence
is courage: the unanswered question,
the resolute doubt,—
dumbly calling, deafly listening—that
in misfortune, even death,
encourages others
and in its defeat, stirs
the soul to be strong? He
sees deep and is glad, who
accedes to mortality
and in his imprisonment rises
upon himself as
the sea in a chasm, struggling to be
free and unable to be,
in its surrendering
finds its continuing.
So he who strongly feels,
behaves. The very bird,
grown taller as he sings, steels
his form straight up. Though he is captive,
his mighty singing
says, satisfaction is a lowly
thing, how pure a thing is joy.
This is mortality,
this is eternity.

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