Acta Cogitata: An Undergraduate Journal in Philosophy


A role of poetry is to relieve the existential weight of one’s existence. For many, poetry is a means of survival, not a luxury. It is not readily seen as something that preserves humanity. Yet, it does. The role of the poet is to express more lucidly what is concealed beneath the skin. Language exists because one has an innate need to establish things that have not been previously established. Words are not founded in reality, and what is said is hardly ever what is meant. However, one does not notice this when she is merely perceiving the world around her. Poetry, however, seeks to move past mere perceptions and explore the importance of language as meditation. It offers a deeper, more scrupulous form of communication. Unlike other forms of writing, poetry more readily unearths depth and recognizes that one’s inner chaos is dynamic rather than paralyzing. Through writing poetry, one learns to dance with disorder. The poet understands life has something beneath it, so she begins to peel away the skin with a careful hand. Through writing she is illuminated amidst the shadows of her depths. Through a process of igniting thought and burning away pain, a poem emerges in a smoky haze. In this way, poetry is synonymous with the art of mindfulness. It is a meditation in which one learns to accept things for both what they are and what they are not readily seen as. With each poem that is birthed, the author experiences a removal of self. This sort of transformation is highlighted through the examination of poetry in light of Buddhist and Daoist practice via the poems of T’ang poet Han Shan.

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