I am very grateful indeed to Christopher Buck for pointing me in the direction of a poet I had never heard of: Richard P. Jones. I am grateful for two reasons. One is that the poem Buck quotes challenges the distinction I have been trying to make between left- and right-brain poetry. It reads like a left-brain poem for most of its length yet it moved me to tears. Perhaps the distinction is harder to make than I thought. The second reason is that I have a strong feeling that I have just met for the first time another poet who could enrich my life. Below is a short extract from Buck’s piece on the Bahá’í Teaching website: for the full post see link.
Continuing His remarks, the Bab said: “It is the immediate influence of the Holy Spirit that causes words such as these to stream from the tongue of poets, the significance of which they themselves are oftentimes unable to apprehend.” … The Bab subsequently quoted this well-known tradition: “Treasures lie hidden beneath the throne of God; the key to those treasures is the tongue of poets.” – The Bab, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 258–259.
Every word of thy poetry is indeed like unto a mirror in which the evidences of the devotion and love thou cherishest for God and His chosen ones are reflected. – Tablets of Baha’u’llah, pp. 175–176.
I think that powerful poems can even become deeds sometimes. How?
In the previous article, “Thoughts as Deeds,” I mentioned Richard P. Jones’ poem, “Purslane.” Purslane is a weed. How could purslane be the proper subject for a good poem?
Well, “Purslane” is also about a horse, and a pasture, and more. But the significance of a great poem is not only what it says, but what it leaves unsaid. In other words, great art repays full appreciation.
Let’s look at the poem first:
by Richard P. Jones
Inside the pasture
where someone has tended the grass
there are no purslane weeds
They must grow by themselves
(close to the ground
as they always do
where no one destroys them).
They used to be the vegetable
found most often on the table
of early settlers here
until they decided
that so little effort
meant they weren’t worth it
and turned their hands instead
to different lettuces:
iceberg & endive
romaine & escarole
and so on and so on
Well, anyway, the purslane
grows along the outside of the fence
and under the lowest level of wire
holding the pasture together.
The mare has scars on her nose
and on her throat from eating it.
Space does not permit a detailed analysis and appreciation of this great poem, so a few brief remarks will have to suffice.