Irreducible Clarity



If that’s what he means,’ says the student to the poetry teacher, ‘why doesn’t he just say it?’
‘If God is real,’ says the parishioner to the preacher, ‘why doesn’t he simply storm into our lives and convince us?’
The questions are vastly different in scale and relative importance,
but their answers are similar.
A poem, if it’s a real one, in some fundamental sense
means no more and no less than the moment of its singular music and lightning insight;
it is its own code to its own absolute and irreducible clarity.
A god, if it’s a living one, is not outside of reality but in it, of it,
though in ways it takes patience and imagination to perceive.
Thus the uses and necessities of metaphor,
which can flash us past our plodding resistance and habits into strange new truths.
Thus the very practical effects of music, myth, and image,
which tease us not out of reality, but deeper and more completely into it.
~Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer


2 thoughts on “Irreducible Clarity

  1. Wiman is wonderful, clear and easy to understand. Since I’ve read some of his work here on your blog I now own his book, “My Bright Abyss.” Metaphor is one of my favorite literary techniques. One can get a lot of mileage out of it!
    Thank you, Emily.


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