The report is based on one chapter from the Roger Housden’s book Ten poems to last a lifetime. In this chapter the author analyses the poem “Ecstasy”, written by American poet Hayden Carruth. The very first thing that appears in mind when reading the original, is understanding that humans are prone to look for sharp feelings and states of sheer delight. In my point of view, author wanted to show us in this poem that no matter how hard to try, person’s mind will never go further than sense.
Roger Housden, the author of the above mentioned book tries to explain all the deep thoughts, interlinear contents and concealed hints which the poem includes. Verses always make us think and imagine in our own way, so it is pivotal to absorb how subjective someone’s interpretation may be. Still, when reading the explanation, the motif becomes more and more clear with each line, and, by funny coincidence, more and more questions arise in my mind. Roger Housden says that poem is all about peace which goes beyond the level of understanding and realizes itself in what we used to call ecstasy. Every word of the poem carries its own significance for understanding of the whole sense.
In the book we find short biography of Hayden Carruth, on the assumption of inseparability of the creator and the creation. It is interesting to observe while reading the poem the author’s categories of thinking which vividly reflect his way of living. This poem is not an exception. I believe, when writing a poem poet primarily uses his own experience. Of course, he tries to hide it using the symbolic constructions and idioms, but it is impossible to hide the way person thinks and things he contemplates over while writing. The point of writing is to be heard.
The issue of self-consciousness in the poem
Roger Housden says that it is a blessing-curse which everyone has got. This is the medium to experience ecstasy, which is by far the best reason to stay alive. Music and sex are mentioned to bring ecstatic effects. Roger Housden through all the analysis brings the idea of author’s tastes they are the explanations of using certain words. For instance, he says that by word music he meant exactly jazz and blues, because those were his favorite. Housden suggests that the reason why music is so popular and all the time is used as an essential part of any religion, is in its superpower to be more than we can explain and it puts us in the state of ecstasy. The author of the book retells two moments from his life when he experienced sheer rapture because of art. First of them was created by Turkish instruments oud and the ney, and the second happened when he saw Fra Angelico’s fresco The Annunciation. The feeling of pure satisfaction made him a little happier, a little more human. Feelings go away but the memory remains, that is the way to broaden your range of interests. That is the way we change and develop.
Roger Housden thinks that when in his poem Carruth is saying that the whole world is in peace he is not wishing that, but he experiences it in such position, and it makes “the great pain assuaged”. It is a prayer, not a dream. Something more than music or sex, something brighter than moment of ecstasy – sheer grace. The question that strikes my head at this point is how a person can read so much sense in just one line of a poem? Rhetorical questions need no answer. Everyone sees the world in the light of personal life experience, baggage of knowledge and outlook. Yes, it sounds subjective; actually, it is subjective, just as art.
I tried to summarize the thoughts which evoked in mind of one person reading one poem that lasts a lifetime. Balancing on the thin string I wanted to catch the shadows of meanings and wavelength of thoughts. Still, no matter how hard to try to understand someone, it is impossible to make it 100% precisely, just because you are not the same person and you have been created with a unique way of thinking. This is the gift, the gift to be a personality.