By Christopher Hall
Wonder is the beginning of wisdom. - Socrates The reason why the philosopher is compared to the poet is that both are concerned with wonders. For the myths with which the poets deal are composed of wonders, and the philosophers themselves were moved to philosophize as a result of wonder. – St. Thomas Aquinas
We want the boys at Western Academy to be wise, and in order for them to be wise they must first conceive of the world as miraculous and wondrous, and poetry helps them do this. By “miraculous” I don’t mean full of fairy dust and arbitrary pseudo-explanations. I mean a sense that the world is “charged with the grandeur of God,” to quote Gerard Manley Hopkins; the world is not just a concatenation of brute facts, but a marvel and wonder to behold. No one who wanted to write poem about a mountain would settle with a list of the stones and minerals of which it is made, because there’s more than that making the mountain, and that is, ultimately, the idea of the mountain in the mind of God.
The boys’ experience of wonder and the miraculous incites them to knowledge, but this knowledge does not simply explain the phenomena of the world, which it relates to the boy who knows. Rather, true knowledge occurs when the boy interiorizes the reality of the sensed phenomena. A fact, on its own, cannot properly be interiorized, because it cannot be related to. It’s just there. But truth is relatable; the boy can be there with it. Poetry interiorizes, as well, and poetry is its own kind of knowledge, what St. Thomas called poetica scientia. Continue reading The Art of Poetry: A Deeper Participation in Reality