Poetic experience is distinct in nature from mystical experience. Because poetry emanates from the free creativity of the spirit,it is from the very start oriented toward expression, and terminates in a word proffered, it wants to speak; whereas mystical because it emanates from the deepest longing of the spirit bent on knowing, tends of itself toward silence and internal fruition. Poetic experience is busy with the created world and the enigmatic and innumerable relations of existents with one another, not with the Principle of Being.
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Thus society is born, as something required by nature, and (because this nature is human nature) as something accomplished through a work of reason and will, and freely consented to. Man is a political animal, which means that the human person craves political life, communal life, not only with regard to the family community, but with regard to the civil community.
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In periods when shallow speculation is rife, one might think that metaphysics would shine forth, at least, by the brilliance of its modest reserve. But the very age that is unaware of the majesty of metaphysics, likewise overlooks its poverty. Its majesty? It is wisdom. Its poverty? It is human science.
Since art is a virtue of the intellect, it demands to communicate with the entire universe of the intellect. Hence it is that the normal climate of art is intelligence and knowledge: its normal soil, the civilized heritage of a consistent and integrated system of beliefs and values; its normal horizon , the infinity of human experience enlighted by the passionate insight of anguish or the intellectual virtues of a contemplative mind.
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The light of common sense is fundamentally the same light as that of science, that is to say, the natural light of the intellect. But in common sense this light does not return upon itself by critical reflection, and is not perfected by what we shall learn to know as a scientific habit.
The aim of education is to guide young persons in the process through which they shape themselves as human persons-armed with knowledge, strength of judgment, and moral virtues-while at the same time conveying to them the spiritual heritage of the nation and the civilization in which they are involved.
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Art and poetry cannot do without one another. Yet the two words are far from being synonymous. By Art I mean the creative or producing, work-making activity of the human mind. By Poetry I mean, not the particular art which consists in writing verses, but a process both more general and more primary: that intercommunication between the inner being of things and the inner being of the human Self which is a kind of divination (as was realized in ancient times; the Latin vates was both a poet and a diviner). Poetry, in this sense, is the secret life of each and all of the arts.
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Every work of art reaches man in his inner powers. It reaches him more profoundly and insidiously than any rational proposition, either cogent demonstration or sophistry. For it strikes him with two terrible weapons, Intuition and Beauty, and at the single root in him of all his energies... Art and Poetry awaken the dreams of man, and his longings, and reveal to him some of the abysses he has in himself.
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Art is a creative effort of which the wellsprings lie in the spirit, and which brings us at once the most intimate self of the artist and the secret concurrences which he has perceived in things by means of a vision or intuition all his own, and not to be expressed in ideas and in words-expressible only in the work of art.
The division between the useful arts and the fine arts must not be understood in too absolute a manner. In the humblest work of the craftsmen, if art is there, there is a concern for beauty, through a kind of indirect repercussion that the requirements of the creativity of the spirit exercise upon the production of an object to serve human needs.
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That is why I think, in defiance of Plato, that there is at once error and vulgarity in saying that poetry is a lie, except in the sense that Cocteau wrote one day: I am a lie who always tells the truth. The only poetry which lies purely and simply is academic, pseudo-classical, conceptually repetitive poetry, and it is not poetry.