O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul,
O I say now these are the soul!
I Sing the Body Electric, Walt Whitman
St. Augustine is often blamed for creating the concept of a body/mind-soul split, and much of Western thinking is based on this idea. The Psalmist's, For I am fearfully and wonderfully made, seems to have given way to I am fearfully made.
Walt Whitman helped in sewing the soul back into the weft of the body with his words, yet we continue to struggle with the supposed separation.
I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.
Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul?
And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?
If we are lucky, our bodies demand we get out of our heads and heed the ache and passion of living. It may be an illness that takes us from our head space and into our fragile body. Or an accident. Maybe falling in love is the key, the tipping point between intellectualism's dry company and the body's wonderful letting go.
Poets are advised to appeal to the senses. Work with ideas if you must, ideals and political leanings, but nothing will capture the reader like a well-placed image or scent, the remembrance of a taste brought forward. Cut through the radish skin, red reveals white, slight moisture on your fingers, bitterness on your tongue.
Today I am dwelling in scent/ sight/ sound/ taste/ touch.
Today I am dwelling in the body electric.
My writing often deals with the environment, my poetry filled with allusions to natural and man-made disasters. I have unlimited hope though; there is just too much wonder in this world to become a defeatist. To quote Margaret J. Wheatley, '"Hopelessness has surprised me with patience."