And now for something not really so very different. Well, a little different: a caveat to yesterday’s post, but not to anything I literally wrote.
Both poems – the Rumi that I copied and the cummings that I linked – are by religious poets. One was a Moslem (Sufi mystic), the other Christian (Unitarian, I think).
I, however, am not religious. I am agnostic; ‘God’ as represented by world religions is a supernatural being, outside of or at least not constrained by the laws of physics. The physical universe contains everything that is observable; this god, as claimed, is not contained within the physical universe. There is no observation or set of observations that can corroborate or falsify the hypothesis that there is a supernatural god (let alone any claims about this god). Further, I know of no philosophically convincing argument that such a god must exist. As a result, both the claim that god exists and the claim that no god exists seem intellectually irresponsible.
So it feels a bit strange to post work by a religious poet, and to say that I love it. Rumi writes frequently of the Friend or the Beautiful One or God, and cummings has written his poem to God (the only thing he capitalizes in his poetry, from what I’ve seen), ideas against which my mind protests. They attribute so much to a being whose existence is merely conceivable, and whose ability to affect the physical universe would be questionable at best anyway. Yet I love the poems. It is paradoxical.
Perhaps the reason the religious aspect does not ruin those poems for me is that their religion is not common religion. It is not churchiness. It is not bigoted, it does not demonize religious others, it pictures no spider held to dangle over the precipice of hell by a thin thread in the fingers of an angry god. It is the opposite of those things; these are them whose religion is love, is intoxication with life. If they believed their god were the vengeful sort, one who meant himself to be held in terror, they would have turned a deaf ear to their religion. “To love is to reach God,” writes Rumi. (And the lover is a mad, crazy fool. The rules, fear, propriety and judgmentalism of common religion cannot touch him.)
His god is the one who says
Come, come, whoever you are.
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
They may talk to fairies, but at least their fairies aren’t the murderous sort.