Spring 1942 • Vol. IV No. 2 Nonfiction |

Poetry’s Dark Night¹

The very career of the word "poetry" seems to me highly instructive. Only at a comparatively recent time has this word come to designate the poetry: previously it signified the art, the activity of the working reason, and it is in this sense that Aristotle and the ancients—and our own classical age—dealt with Poetics. One might say that the word "poetry," piercing and working through metaphysical densities, has made its way gradually from the body of the poetic work to, at last, the soul of the work, where it has attained to the spiritual. A phenomenon which will afford small wonder if one admits that poetry—among the poets, I mean to say—has begun only in rather recent years to become aware of itself in an explicit and deliberate way (and it will never be finished doing so). The law of the gradual achievement of self-awareness is one of the great laws of the historical development of the human being, and it corresponds to a characteristic of activity in the spiritual or

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