LEW WELCH

from LANGUAGE IS SPEECH

 

     What we try to do in the situation of teaching or writ-ing or confessing or standing firm against those who would cheat us or lie to us or kill us, what we try to do when we need most to speak openly to our beloved or to those who believe in us, need us, ask us for really necessary advice, is to try to be, in words, exact. We must now speak. And we must now be exact. To what?
     This is the moment you bring words to Mind as the poet brings words to Mind. It is why we prize poetry, in spite of all the sloppy examples of writing that go under the name of poetry. We all know what we go to poetry for. We want the exact transmission of Mind into Word.

     We dont care how crazy that man is, we want exact transmission of that crazed Mind. We are crazed ourselves. It would help to know we are not alone. We are delighted by the calmness of this other one. We are sent to the woods to see, really see, what wed so often looked at and never noticed at all, by that other Mind. We need to know exactly what it must be like to be an ambassador, a killer, a hulking fool.      Since the business of living has so many barbs in it, and since so many of our friends are liars or fools or inarticulate or emotionally blunt or are sucking on us for what they imagine we can give though we cant, it is pure joy to read the poems of the truth-sayers, the simple singers, the masters of prayer and devotion, and the crazed, wise, babblers of Ecstasy, the High-Mind Singers to no end.

[Lew Welch. "Language Is Speech." In Lew Welch: How I Work As a Poet & Other Essays. Donald Allen, ed. Grey Fox Press, 1983.]