I had a professor, and a very good one, who once spoke about “the poetry of the ineffable.”
That’s a word for what’s all around us but cannot be easily named or defined, if at all.
Common as the air we breathe, but just as hard to see. The feeling of being home again after a period away. Recognizing a voice on the telephone before a single word is understood. The last dribbly bits of consciousness before we fall asleep. The little twitch of nerves that tells you it’s time to get up. Life, love, the universe.
The ineffable, by its standard definition, means “incapable of being expressed or described in words.”
And yet here they are, poets — going at it in the August edition of Verse-Virtual.
You can say it’s part of the job.
Tom Montag’s poem “Speak, Tree” brings me right up against the moment when I stare at a tree, or a line of them, against a blue sky, something I do a lot, particularly in summer. Is there a term for this activity? I don’t think so. The poem begins:
Speak, tree, of all
you’ve seen, your whole
life holding sky.
I’ve never thought of that relationship (“holding sky”) between trees and sky, in quite that way. And when we contemplate trees against sky are we doing what this poem suggests: asking the tree to share its wisdom with us? There’s no common word or expression for that relationship, either. But now we have a poem for it.
See my blog prosegarden.blogspot.com for the rest of the story.
To read my poem “Old Wooden Doors” and two others follow this link