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Category Archives: Musings & Other Things

Verse Versus Poetry

I’m pausing—am in the middle of composing a 9-7-5 Terza Rima—to say a few words on verse versus poetry. Verse is very different from poetry. Verse allows me to pause and give my brain a break without ruining the structure or losing anything vital to a poem’s completion, whereas poetry, when it comes, is more desperate and immediate, requiring a notebook NOW. Poetry enters in through the right lobe of the brain, whereas verse is composed in the left lobe. So much verse reads like prose but with a fun “Mother Goose” sort of sound. So much “free verse” reads like prose as well, and most free-versers would cringe to consider that artful line breaks don’t create poetry of thoughts. Even qualities that make words fun to read and listen to (such as alliteration and assonance) don’t necessarily make poetry of words, but they can act magically on the mind and/or heart. Poetry (my own personal definition) is made of more sophisticated qualities that require either careful thought or actual inspiration (metaphor is expected; hyperbole is above and beyond, literally and figuratively, and personification can raise the dead to life through the mag-ic of i-mag-ination).

One of my favorite poems is Hugh MacDiarmid’s “Birth of a Genius Among Men.” It’s actually somewhat poorly structured, but the poetry within the structure compensates. The first three stanzas:

The night folded itself about me, like a woman’s hair.
Thousands of dispersed forces, drawn as by a magnet,
Streamed through the open windows. Millions of stars poured through.
What destiny were they seeking in us? What outlet?

The universe awoke in my body.
My breast expanded and overflowed into the night.
I was one with Scotland out there, and with all the world,
And thoughts of your beauty shone in me like starlight.

You were all female, ripe as a rose for the plucking.
I was all male and no longer resisted my need.
The earth obeyed the rhythm of our panting.
The mountains sighed with us—infinity was emptied.

POETRY!

But this is verse, this rhythmic sound,
With nothing much to say,
And here the iambs loop around,
Say nothing anyway.

I’m convinced that the difference between poetry and verse is this: poetry is delivered through inspiration, and verse is the product of mental compulsion–plain and simple–and because it’s compulsive, it’ll be manufactured to endure as lastingly as poetry, for better and for worse.

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Posted by on May 28, 2018 in Musings & Other Things

 

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Near-Life Experience (the Excluded Preface)

I was scrolling through a document of notes and found this Preface that I had written in advance and forgotten about. Instead, my little collection of poems has a practical Introduction; but I thought I’d share this Preface since it doesn’t appear in the book (yet it explained the title better than anything actually within the book, imo).

PREFACE

The more I read and understand, the more I realize that I am the awareness that fashions this body that types these words; I usher in from “the other side” as though I am “dead” and occupying a body through which to “do and shape” according to what my senses gather and what my mind or heart realize as a need for my presence in the moment.

I float through life. I feel, I see, I touch, and I wonder if everyone else feels this sense of being not a resident, per se, but a guest acquainted to the environment through learning and experience. Our senses ground us, but it’s always fleeting, which makes each moment truly precious: it’s here and then it’s gone, having given way to change of the ever-fluctuating Now.

I’ve often pondered the significance and the insignificance of my own words. I consider that “In the beginning was the Word” and, to me, that translates to sound, vibration, color, texture, shape. Why am I “here” right now? What gifts have I remembered through genetic memory that give value or direction to my being?

The awareness that I am is a spark of the divine passed through my ancestors. They live through me and give me an impulse to be a true and simple voice through which others can connect with the divine within themselves, because in that awareness is comfort and realization that we are never truly alone, whether this near-life experience is real, unreal, surreal, hyper-real. (“We’re all in this together,” or maybe All Is One and “we” forget.)

Words are multi-dimensional which makes them a tool of magic. On that note, I give birth to Near-Life Experience by invoking the magic of words in sentiment and sound. My will is to transfer the Love and the Beauty that I experience as I sit on this plateau with youth behind me and wisdom ahead and blowing in my direction – not to override the experiences of others, but to move spirit through the wind of words, to share moments in which I am reminded that All Is One so readers might remember the same through my words.




(Near-Life Experience by Christina Finlayson Taylor is available at Amazon.
Contact me at literata72@gmail.com for a signed copy.)

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2018 in Musings & Other Things

 

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Winter

Layers of winter:
Maple, flaunting her features,
Dressed for the season.














































I had a remarkable experience of being one with the picture of winter rather than simply watching it through the panels of the back door, toasty-toed, from the wood stove. The latter cultivates gratitude for warmth, shelter, security; whereas going outdoors, if we fully open ourselves to the moment, winter can cleanse the soul just as it purifies the earth.

I was walking along the sidewalk the other morning and snow was newly falling, just beginning to powder the sidewalk and the hedgerow to my right. Thirty degrees; quite tolerable. I wasn’t wearing a hood and enjoyed the snow speckling my head, and a pleasant waft of chimney smoke from the house of neighbors a few doors down. I imagined the couple sitting at their wood stove with coffee in hand. I was glad for their comfort, yet I was glad to be outside in a quiet moment of gentle snowfall, and an incredible sense of peace washed over me, and in that moment I was immensely joy-full of the beauty of winter. The season that I’ve always retreated from spoke to me in a new way, and as spring seems to be arriving early this year and the happy birdsong is invigorating, something tells me that when leaves begin to fall this autumn, there will be no sense of dread for the coming cold. I’ve made peace with all seasons.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2018 in Musings & Other Things

 

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Poem: Tapestry

Each life, a thread within a weave,
The grandest tapestry.
The weaver weaves the present-tense
With seeming spontaneity
When threads surrender to the hands,
The implements of mind,
The eye of God with vision clear;
The fates as puppets, blind,

But ah! The rebel now and then:
The path of the magician,
Resolved to wield a wayward will
And see it to fruition,
And even God with vision clear
Is thusly entertained
When perfect order intertwines
With chaos unrestrained.

A living, breathing tapestry—
With knots of soul-collision,
With known and hidden warp and woof
In patternless precision—
Extends in all directions far
Beyond all comprehension:
The playground of eternity,
A dream beyond dimension.

–Christina Finlayson Taylor
January 2018

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2018 in Musings & Other Things

 

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The “Feely” Quality of Hand-Crafted Books

This morning I was reading a touching poem by Jorge Luis Borges. It’s important to note that he was blind through part of his life, and blind when he wrote “June 1968.” It begins:

On a golden evening,
or in a quietness whose symbol
might be a golden evening,
a man sets up his books
on the waiting shelves,
feeling the parchment and leather and cloth
and the satisfaction given by
the anticipation of a habit
and the establishment of order.

(Further down the poem…)

The man, who is blind,
knows that he can no longer read
the handsome volumes he handles
and that they will not help him write
the book which in the end might justify him,
but on this evening that perhaps is golden
he smiles at his strange fate
and feels that special happiness
which comes from things we know and love.

On that note, I went down to our poetry room, which we call the Red Salon, and picked up my husband’s magnum opus, Remnants of a Season. I imagined that I might one day be mostly blind, like my great grandma, and I felt the book with my hands—the dimension, the texture, the special binding—and I filled with gratitude for the aesthetic sensibility and the craftsmanship of others, and how these qualities enrich and stylize our culture in ways such as clothing words in the most elegant book binding.

Remnants of a Season is of such a “feely” quality that it’s as much a treasure to hold as it is to behold, and if ever I could not read it, I could hold it in my hands and recognize it, hold it to my heart and absorb it, even as Borges must have known his favorite books by touch.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2017 in Musings & Other Things

 

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Poem: Illusion

The saddest thing: when those we care about
And wish to love and hold within our lives
Are happier without.

We look within the mirror, look for lies
That surface when the lens of mind is broken;
We look within the eyes

To contemplate the all that isn’t spoken,
And what can never fully be expressed
And seldom be awoken

Except to crush the surface into dust,
Send ego through the dread refiner’s fire
As die it simply must.

The unmoved mover never suffers ire;
The soul within maintains its non-direction,
The rod to never tire,

But pluck away the thoughts of imperfection,
Dissolve illusion, smash it with a clout,
Then find a true reflection.

–Christina Finlayson Taylor
Autumn 2017

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2017 in Musings & Other Things

 

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Poem: Soul to Hero

My book in the making, so far, is yet more introspective than Villanelles & Varia. I’m happy with the flow of poems and whisper “Thank You, my Muse” upon completion of each one. Gratitude is important. Here is one that I penned the other day for my husband:

Soul to Hero

I’ve no desire to return
When one last time I leave the flesh,
But you, with tested sword in hand,
You relish the adventure
Of all I wish to leave behind,
So ‘round you’ll go and fall again:
Another life, another skin,
In order to remember,

And once again I’ll watch and wait
And send you signs, as now and then
You’ll long for all that you’ll forget
And must recall again.
The Evening Star is ever there:
Your guiding light, her golden hair,
And memories outside of time
Will swell a song within.

You’ll linger long in twilight eyes
And feel a long forgotten dream,
And when you see her gazing deep,
You’ll then remember me,
And fall into the loveless Love,
And softly, then, I’ll pull you in
With gentle winds that call you home
When once again you leave.


–Christina Finlayson Taylor
Autumn, 2017

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2017 in Musings & Other Things

 

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