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 don’t 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 we’d
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
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 can’t, 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.]