The Art of Loneliness is The Heart of Poetry

At first I wrote: the art of loneliness is the art of poetry. Then art became heart. I am a solo singer hoping to be a singular singer in a silent choir. Rilke once wrote that a marriage was about two solitudes bordering each other. I once thought that of my own marriage until I realized it was a long training in recognizing my aloneness. And so it was but no longer. Now I am a solitude bordering—just what? Absence? Nothingness? The incredible, edible light pouring across the water into the sunroom that is my study?

Aloneness has been central to my art. The part of being apart has always plagued me and o how slight the difference is between solitude and loneliness. I once thought solitude sacred, loneliness not, but they are fused, Siamese twins sharing one heart. And one must go it alone to get to the heart part of art. I dare that loneliness, tempt loneliness, nurse it and milk it at once.

And suddenly in all that terrific and terrible loneliness, a word appears. Not just a word, but the word. A migratory word. One bound to bind with others because it carries poetry’s hint of music. This is what I can say: I write classical poetry in vers libre, always in vers libre out of my classical and sometimes colossal loneliness. The loneliness is integral—as the sun slowly sinks, my loneliness rises as does my voice. No voice without loneliness—this much I am sure of. In the guts of my aloneness is the cry of silence. Poets must love silence and silence must love them. Solitude, loneliness incubate the beautiful silences that precede and follow the poem. It takes miles of silence, a ton of silence to bridge into the beginnings, middles, ends.

Aloneness, then, is a practice, a discipline. So is poetry. The light moves and the light moves me. Loneliness is my daisy chain: I love you, I love you not, but poetry, the big ah of poetry is the big ah of love: full, earthy, God-given. As I sit here alone in my house, I see eel grass, I see ladders, I see dock. In that eel grass is the dream of the statuesque heron who is my muse. And the ladders scaffold poems. And the dock is all about voyage and return which is at the heart of the art of writing for me. Poetry, then, is silence’s signature and I birth that silence out of solitude in the august autumn of my evening years. In Keatsian light and shade. In the voice that is in the crux and void of creation and in, always within and in my miraculous, merciless loneliness.

Filed under: Elizabeth Kirschner, Prose