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Viewless Wings: Poetry and Poets

Viewless Wings

While a mystical experience may be described in words, the tools of language and logic do not allow the essence of the event to be conveyed in any meaningful way. This is why mystics often turn to poetical devices in attempting to express their knowledge of higher realms.

The arts, however, have an ability to evoke a sense of the numinous in a seemingly effortless manner, even where the artist is not primarily concerned with mystical ideas. To choose just three of many, Keats, Turner and Vaughan Williams offer excellent examples of Blake's "three Powers in Man of conversing with Paradise:" each in their different fields has much to offer the spiritual seeker, even though none of them are "mystics" in the usual sense. Blake himself was an embodiment of all three rolled into one.

"Poetry, Painting and Music, the three Powers in Man of conversing with Paradise."
William Blake, A Vision of the Last Judgement

Here we offer a consideration of one small part of the poetic arts - the "little sound" (perhaps a "still small voice") of the sonnet. The poems presented are not on esoteric or metaphysical themes in general, and yet the best of them have the power to affect the reader profoundly. Start with our introduction to the sonnet, then experience some of the great English language examples of this compact form by selecting any of the poets below.

Blake
Blake
Browning
Browning
Byron
Byron
Donne
Donne
Keats
Keats
Shakespeare
Shakespeare
Shelley
Shelley
Wordsworth
Wordsworth
Yeats
Yeats