Kenneth Burke says that the connection between Mysticism and Purpose can be established sociologically by noting that "although individual mystics may arise at any period of history, mystical philosophies " appear in times of epochal change. Mystical poems are a mark of transition, "flourishing in times of great skepticism or confusion about the nature of human purpose."  (A Grammar of Motives, 1945, p. 288).

Mathew Arnold, and I.A. Richards presumed that poetry could be a respectable substitute for religion in an age of science.

New Criticism points to the radical specificity of poetic language.

Julia Kristeva wanted to bring the body back into phenomenology and linguistics. In Revolution in Poetic Language she says that "our philosophies of Language, embodiments of the Idea, are nothing more than the thoughts of archivists, archaeologies, and necrophiliacs."  In order to counteract what she sees as the necrophilia of structural linguistics, a study the dead or silent body, Kristeva develops a new field she calls "semanalysis." With semanalysis, Kristeva attempts to bring the speaking body, complete with drives, back into language.

I write poems for recreation, sometimes a prayerful work. Here is one unpublishable poem.


Chi is a life-giving
death defying strike
inside the universe
at once, the creation
and destruction
of all things,
leading us to death,
and then our birth again.

We are a bursting flame,
the first, the last, the first, and last again.
the peace and thrust
 of the universe.

We are birds
in the flower;
beaking and bustling,

We are the flower,
beaked and bustled.

At once,
we are scarabs,
pismires, ants
devouring the dead,
by the millions, we are,
eating from need
 and delight.

We are the carcasses,
dead scraps, somehow alive,
feeling a rapture
in the pricking millions,
steadfastly, endlessly,
our flesh.

We are vultures
taking blood and flesh
from the innocent.
We are the innocent, virgins,
giving our blood, generously.

We are wolves
crying in the wilderness.

We are the wilderness,
drinking in the cries.

We are killers,
hating in revenge,
roaring, yes,
in fulfillment.

We are the victims
of this venom
in terror, yes,
from lovers.


We are slithering snakes,
slinking silently
searching slowly
in the salt grass.

We are the grass,
opening our doors,
to moistened, prowling
 noiseless bodies.


We are meadowlarks,
sounding sweetness
 to the sky.

We are the sky,
embracing, enfolding
gentle sounds.


We are tornadoes,
splitting through the plains,
ripping trees,
throwing beasts.

We are the plains, untouched,
yet, touched, whirled,
loving the storm.


We are the restless sea,
tossing against high land,
eating the sand,
wave by wave,
wave by wave,
by wave.

We are the land,
giving away our sand.


We are sons and daughters
stabbing mothers.
We are mothers.
suffering the pain.

We are fathers
losing our children.
We are children,
losing our fathers.


We are spiders
weaving webs,
waiting for prey.

We are the prey,
caught, trapped,
wanting to be free
then, waiting to be taken,
willing, not willing,


We are dogs of the night,
howling at the moon.

we are the moon, wanting
to be known, and loved,


We are the sun,
boiling with flames,
sustaining the earth.

We are the earth,
Watching distant fire,
seeing inferno, yet,
feeling gentle light.

For more poems,  we should talk over a cup of tea.  Or, if you prefer, we could have a slug of whiskey,
and share our poetry together.

Richard McKeon says that poets and critics of the Twelfth Century did not share our tendency to think of poetry in opposition to learning. In their view, problems are made poetic when its lessons are without commitment to a particular philosophy or religion that might restrain sentiment in "the construction of figures." (Modern Philology, May, 1946.)

For rercent poems on churches in Roxbury, click here.