If someone starts from the base of things and words, then he has to accept that when he says poem, he means both the verse and the prose in literature.
A precondition for adopting this understanding is the knowledge of the hylomorphic unity of beings.
Hylomorphic unity means that in the original realm of literature, that is in the exception because rule and status shape the counterfeit form of literature, form and matter are one.
Of course, the true litterateur, when he writes, considers both what he will say, and how he will say it. However, beyond this double concern, his attention is magnetized by his terrifying fascination with the word of things. He is overwhelmed and buffeted by those invisible meanings and gestures, numina, which is what we simply call the beauty of the world.
From this special and dangerous relationship of the creator with the beauty of the world, two things spring and are explained.
One is the need for inspiration in order for the creator to create. It is what Plato in Phaedrus calls “Possession and madness comes from the Muses” Plat., Phaedrus, 245a.
The other is the poetic power of truth that is enclosed in his work. This was the exact cause for Dostoevsky binding beauty and truth together to his famous quote, which sounds so absurd: “beauty will save the world.“
Thus, for the same reason that poetry is Solomos’ three brilliant octaves from Lambros, poetry is also Aristotle’s will, and the “animula vagula, blandula,” in the tomb of Caesar Hadrian, and Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground, and Kafka‘s Trial, and Makryyannis’ memoirs, and the whole work of Papadiamantis.
This glowing in the dark flow of understanding that leads to the poem brings it so close to action that the two almost become one.
So someone tells the truth when he claims that poem is the death of oracle Megistia in Thermopylae, the conspiracy of Brutus in Rome, the coronation of Palaiologos in Mystras, and the refusal of Polyzoidis to sign the conviction of Nafplio.
Goethe, seated on this stone of patience and knowledge, was enlightened to translate the In the beginning was the Word of the fourth Gospel into In the beginning was the Act. (Goethe, Faust, 1224 – 1237).
The noun poem (ποίημα-poiema) is derived from the verb ποιείν (poiein) which means to do.
We will not engage ourselves in defining the criteria for genuine and counterfeit poetry. This issue is different, is big, and it leads to high seas. We will touch upon some points – criteria though.
The first is the novelty. For the poet to create creation, he will somewhere and somehow use the method of the scientist-researcher. In a sense, art also becomes research.
Dante’s Comedy, which is the epic poem of the Middle Ages, presupposes Virgil’s Aeneid, which is an epic poem of the Romans. Aeneid in turn is an extension of Homer’s epic poems.
Just as the physicist or biologist will not proceed to discover the new, if they do not know the whole of the scientific field in which they work, same happens with the poet. Inspiration, talent, practice are not enough. Knowledge is also needed.
The second is the thrift. That is, the craftsman works frugally and with fear. Rare is to write, not to practice. Because he does the latter day and night.
Sophocles had been working on the two Oedipuses for twenty years and Goethe on Faust for fifty. And Cavafy, a twenty-two-carat poet, would write three or four short poems a year. And he did nothing in his whole life, but studying, meditating, and working on poetry.
When someone writes two hundred pages in a hundred days, he works in marble and produces marble dust. And unfortunately we do have such poets (litterateurs – sculptors – painters) today. And they consider themselves geniuses.
For a clear distinction between all these plots and relationships we need to be aware of, beyond the poetic literary categories, the forms of the other arts, of music for example, sculpture, or painting.
If there is no connection between automatic poetry and fauvism painting, they have something in common with the spirit of the times. There is a homologous ground of social reflection, which gave this expression in poetry and that in painting.
At the high level of creation, meditation becomes the music of the sounds, and literature, painting or sculpture, a geometrical balance of meanings and reasoning.
In the arts, as well as in philosophy, from one point onwards nothing new is being told. After the Greeks, every great work has been great in the sense that it appears in a new form, in a different way, through a different expression.
The true creator finally rises in the memory of people, after having previously died in their knowledge. That is the rule. And the opposite is the exception. Stirb und werde! (die and become), as Goethe said.
Sacrifice to the bedecking sun and the monster in chaos is the life of the creator. And a will which he will sign with his blood. Like Faust who, with the sage’s cap, signed a pact with the goatish feet devil. Do you think it is a coincidence, that Heraclitus, Plato, Nietzsche, Solomos, Cavafy, lived and died, forlorn, homeless, unwed, hermetic, childless and reclusive?
In the mental supervision of “Faust” Goethe formulates in a completely strict and geometric way man’s prohibitions for the god. The problem of god is a charge and a claim of critical philosophy and science. That is, of those research methods that offer the highest level of solvency regarding the unadulterated truth. Thus, the various historical religions, which deal with the problem of god, automatically disappear from the map of this problematic.
It is well known that Gretchen’s Question is a point of action, a moment in spacetime, in the plot of the myth of Goethe’s tragedy Faust. Philosophy chose this moment, and “blamed”, in Goethe’s thinking, people questioning for God, because in Goethe’s Faust it saw the universal human type of the European, and in Goethe himself the “Olympian” poet of Europe.
A mental journey like the one of old Odysseus in the seas of Poseidon, of pallid Dante in the Hades of our soul, of the sun scorched Plato in places above the heavens. Ahead there is the faraway road of long-suffering Oedipus through the darkness of the unconscious, and the flames of consciousness.
Goethe will in turn give us back the essence of old wisdom: that a love which does not bring the seed of misery and death is the subject of a comedy.
We are in the Symplegades stones of our quest, which open and close incessantly. Do not let them crush us. Along with the Argonauts.
And in a context of attribution of liability regarding our individual volition, in response to Gretchen’s question Faust’s reply would have told us:
A man who believes in god has a dead god inside him. A man who does not believe in god has a dead human inside him.
Slav Dostoevsky will give the same answer as Goethe to Gretchen’s question:
If Stavrogin believes, he does not believe that he believes.
If Stavrogin does not believe, he does not believe that he does not believe.
But neither Goethe nor Dostoevsky made something new. Both of them walked through open doors when the question of questions was asked.
Twenty centuries ago, a great Greek had overtaken both of them. Gretchen’s question was first recited in iambic measures by Euripides the Athenian in his tragedy Eleni:
What is god, and what isn’t, and what’s in between?
Which man searched for it, and went farther?
The god of Euripides, is the man of the earth who, lingering between life and death, struggles to understand the meaning of his existence in the universe.