Poetry: A little incarnation
Just a quick post to say thank you to those of you who recommended C.S. Lewis’ Reflections on the Psalms back when we discussed the subject a few weeks ago. I just got my copy in the mail, and, as with so many things that Lewis writes, I’m already blown away.
For those of you who haven’t read it, I wanted to share an excerpt that I found particularly stirring. Lewis has been discussing why the Lord would include poetry in sacred scripture, and suggests that one of the reasons may be that the “rhythmic and incantatory expression” of the psalms makes the truths they contain easier to remember. Then he says he thinks there may be something more. He writes:
It seems to me appropriate, almost inevitable, that when that great Imagination which in the beginning, for Its own delight and for the delight of men and angels and (in their proper mode) of beasts, had invented and formed the whole world of Nature, submitted to express Itself in human speech, that speech should sometimes be poetry. For poetry too is a little incarnation, giving body to what had been before invisible and inaudible.
“A little incarnation.” What a perfect expression of what happens when you read a profound poem or hear a beautiful piece of music. You find that it’s more than the sum of its sounds, that something else has become present through the power of words delivered this way. This is what I was fumbling around to articulate when I was talking about how music helped lead me to God: When I would hear certain songs I had a brush with something real, something tangible, something with roots outside of our fallen material world. That is to say, I experienced a little incarnation.
I can’t wait to read more of this book. Thanks again to those who suggested it!
P.S. Still swamped catching up on all the comments to my last post. Thanks for all your thoughts, both those that agreed and those that disagreed. All perspectives are welcome!