Spontaneously, against your better judgment

Spontaneously, against your better judgment

Often, I return to Seamus Heaney, in his Crediting Poetry Nobel lecture, where he explores the properties of poetry:

I credit [poetry] immediately because of a line I wrote fairly recently encourage myself (and whoever else might be listening) to “walk on air against your better judgment.” But I credit it ultimately because poetry can make an order as true to the impact of external reality … An order where we can at least grow up to that which we stored up as we grew. An order which satisfies all that is appetitive in the intelligence and prehensile in the affections.

I credit poetry, in other words, both for being itself and for being a help, for making possible a fluid and restorative relationship between the mind’s centre and its circumference, between the child gazing at the word “Stockholm” on the face of the radio dial and the man facing the faces that he meets in Stockholm at this most privileged moment. I credit it because credit is due to it, in our time and in all time, for its truth to life, in every sense of that phrase.

There seems to be a natural symmetry there with the findings Oliver Sacks expresses in Musicophilia with the natural rhythm people seem to feel with music.

Music seems to have a special power to animate us. There’s something about rhythm that seems to compel one to move with the beat. This is an exclusive human propensity. Children spontaneously move with the beat. No animal does so spontaneously.