Thursday, February 25, 2010

John Donne in the cathedral

This has been a curious week. Summer seems finally to have arrived and the temperatures hover in the near 30s in the city and a forest fire beyond Mosgiel has sent a cloud of smoke drifting over the city. The Octagon is baking and streams of over-heated tourists find their way into the cool of the cathedral.

Tourists wandered in yesterday evening while I was in mid-flight delivering the first of the Lenten Studies 'Speaking into the Silence: Poets and God'. I can't imagine what they made of it, this cassocked fellow talking about John Donne. Of course 'To His Mistress going to Bed' might be thought an odd poem to introduce a Lenten meditation in the cathedral, but fun nonetheless.

... Licence my roving hands, and let them go

Before, behind, between, above, below,

O my America, my new found land,

My kingdom, safliest when with one man manned,

My mine of precious stones, my empery,

How blessed am I in this discovering thee!

I'm not sure at all what the few who came to the study made of it. I speak from my enthusiasms, and poetry is certainly that. I find poetry is another way of thinking and it makes connections that normal discourse can't quite manage or you need to go into another medium - painting or music to touch on. Metaphor crosses cognitive boundaries to create new possibilities and reach across the silence. One remembers, in saying this, that 'God' itself is a metaphor.

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