Intense emotions and surrendering

E e Cummings said, “since feeling comes first, he who pays any attention to the syntax of things will never wholly kiss you.” Adrienne Rich noted, “When we enter touch, we enter touch completely.”
These two poets knew a lot about intense emotion, intense feeling. They knew a whole lot more about it than I do which is the reason they write poetry and I can’t manage to do it. The best I can do is quote the poetry of others! When I met my wife, I was always quoting poetry everywhere I went, and at one point she quipped, “Mad Arkansas hurt you into other people’s poetry.” (She was alluding to a line from W. H. Auden about W. B Yeats, “Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.”)
The following poem by Marriane Moore is about intense feeling also and she concludes that “he who feels strongly behaves.” So often intense feeling is associated with dissolute behavior and emotions run amok. And, that has its place. But, I do feel that “he who feels strongly (can) behave.”
And, another important point she makes, “in its surrendering, finds its continuing.” It is so important to surrender, to give up. And one of these days, perhaps, I will find the humility to accomplish this sublime task:
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,


10 thoughts on “Intense emotions and surrendering

  1. InnerDialect

    Oh I’m sharing this if you dont mnd, love it love it… and that you wrote poetry for your wife, every bit of this, rings necessary atmosphere. Nourish for the spirit of personhood….


    1. literary lew Post author

      Thanks again. Though I didn’t make it clear—I was quoting other people’s poetry to my wife. I have tried to write poetry but just can’t do it, I just can’t let the spirits flow. I’m always honored when you share my posts.


      1. InnerDialect

        You’re welcome. Okay, I loved the little detail about your life, home… poetry … whateer is poetry ? For me, its these few words of honesty, between our lives. I’m no poet. Stumbled onto expression, thru illness and meeting God. For me the Bible is most powered poetry I’v ever read. My husband Noe doesnt get poetry, but most mornings, has to endure my edit read, before the publish button is hit.:)))))))))


      2. literary lew Post author

        I promise I will tell you a little more about my home life sometime. I’m just kind of stuck right now and having a hard time putting thoughts together. This literary enterprise I have embarked on is emotionally hard work for me. Borrowing again from Shakespeare, I “unpack my heart with words” and at some point the heart approached emptiness and I think that scares me. And bear with me on FB. I haven’t been doing much there but intend to create a more interesting page at some point. Would like to do the same with my blog but I’m just not focused enough and/or smart enough!



  2. Pingback: Sleep of the Sea’s Song (Part 4) « Excursions Into Imagination

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