‘Symphonic Prose’? Why not ‘Metaphysical Poetry’?

Symphonic Prose. (I introduce the unorthodox- but apologise for mentioning Involution).

I know the true poet finds his words
In charcoal dreams, a soft-shuffle roundelay
That emanates from reflections in pools of solitude,
While the tongue licks a pencil, to hear the heart’s pause
Seeking the metre to echo, the right line to lead.

Mostly he wraps silence in a paper screw of words
That offers the liberty to linger on the grass
Where clouds above scud images into personal tastes,
Tonguing newly minted thoughts, striped zebra sharp
With wintergreen, storm liquorice, or dripping caramel.

What is meant by symphonic prose?

The traditions of poetry imply assiduous attention to every word, the inflections of each line, somehow squeezing the universal from the minimal. The secrets it unwraps are those of the deeps, calling out both admiration and assent. Good poets express what everyone recognises as true, as precious, as both self-evident and revelatory. The poetically appreciative reader gives such meticulous artistry due weight, reads aloud like T.S Eliot, intoning each phrase to pay tribute to profundity, and stop the listener as certainly as a nightingale in a darkling wood. Poetry demands attention, and part of the resistance to it is to that imperious demand that says ‘Stop. Heed me’. Most hurry on, slightly cross, unless they are at a funeral, when they find it apt. Poetry takes its head from silence and the inexpressible.

Wood or Trees? Whole or Parts?
Wood or Trees?                                                                                    Whole or Parts?

In contrast here is explicit reference to too much ‘artistry’ that kills sympathy.

A similar obsession…
In Dürer’s roving and audacious eye, 
Which served all fillets carefully deboned…
He stroked each hair upon a frightened creature…
Each wrinkle on a toothless listless hag…
The pitiless details of the lucid surface
Somehow cauterize the sympathetic heart

It is science’s cauterisation in its ‘pitiless details’ that the symphony of a renewed science seeks to re-calibrate, without any loss of logic or meaning: Mystical language for mystical science. Involution proposes that Mankind has step-by-step recovered the memory encoded through time and stands at the brink of dissolution; mind and matter melting into one another as a single ‘field’ of energy. Although I did not consciously plan to ape Parmenides, his incantatory instructions in his great poem were about the return to the Goddess, in which words were both musical and vehicles of approach to the great Union of Love; an early knowledge of mantra. It might be further evidence of the hypothesis  (of return to origins) that Parmenides found me, rather than the other way round.

The Dominating Perception of ‘Po-e-try’: Po faced.

In the last post I set out to talk about Reality and Perception and the ways in which perception both creates and distorts the attempt to bridge the gulf between them. Poetry has a deserved and undeserved reputation, and it is the undeserved that I am up against, the belief that it requires different ways of reading, and demands a sort of reluctant reverence. Why is that? Is it because, unlike logical prose that takes by a collar and leads away, it expects the reader to take the steps without hand holding, and does not even cut the grass across which he might have to walk?

The suggestion from a recent supporter was that I had written symphonic prose, not poetry. He was right.  A symphony is more like a tapestry than a painting. It has an underlying structure, warp and weft, and the threads that weave it are to make manifest something else, a picture emerging from elements, both repeated, juxtaposed, modulated; different in different light, richer in certain angles. Pull out any one and disintegration begins. So it is with the warp and weft of consciousness. All needs all; each level of complexity repeats and interweaves. The picture rides above the structure; ’emerges’ from it. That was my hope in writing this way; the scaffolding of science to reveal the cathedral of consciousness. It has no beginning or end. This journey is a wandering at whim and can begin in a crypt or a clerestory.

Not ‘heavy duty’ but material at hand. ( Demolition and Reclamation)

The lines do not demand weighty emphasis, the words ( and indeed the arbitrary subjects selected) chosen were for economy and evocation to throw the rug out wide, not roll it up. They are as easy and logical as prose but without apologies, evidence or persuasion. I wrote a symphonic construction in which each part was there to serve the whole, unimportant except in service to that. I suggested it should be read at an easy canter, and what fell would not matter. You do not stop a symphony because you missed the entry of the bassoon, it will colour anyway and it will augment what you missed on its return. So it is in Involution- an Odyssey. A symphony is a journey through the changes each makes to the all, reshaping silence, to which it returns.

One reviewer really understood its intentions: The reader who finishes the book will not be the same as the one who began it. New ideas will expand the mind but more profoundly, the deep, moving power of the verse will affect the heart. This book was a written pilgrimage…( Marianne Rankin- Alister Hardy Foundation)

Language is linear, but symphonic prose is the closest it can get to music. Contemporary poetry manages the pure tones of single instruments; the brief scales, the short songs: So personal it is unassailable until it finds echoes. Epic poetry takes us on the march of Roman legions; narrative poetry is now almost reviled. You are lyrical or you write epic, and please decide. Might symphonic prose escape and fare a little better? That was the hope. The penalty already lies in the belief that no ‘real’ science can be found within poetic language- again the perception may trump what lies above the structure, it’s the picture ultimately that is important. It proposes a serious and coherent alternative to Evolution’s accidental and competitive precepts which may be missed because the language is evocative and not didactic; the left brain does like to take control. It is provided for (in footnotes) but I’m damned if its shrill caveats and hair splitting deserve any more homage.

Redressing the balance; restoring the wood.

Science has missed the wood of the over-arching canopy which guided those in mental balloons, the geniuses who entered states of union with contemplation, and always returned with the bigger picture, the synthesis, the dissolution of either-or into both-and. As Henri Bergson said  ‘The intellect may be compared to a carver, but it has the peculiarity of imagining that the chicken always was the separate pieces into which the carving knife divides it. Science still supposes that consciousness is emitted by the (mainly) human brain. When you give the material so much importance, it is no wonder it bites back, diminishing the field in which we create and are created, to allow sparks across a synapse ( or a few) to give the brain authority rather than understanding its cellular receptivity as a fine tuned radio: as a momentary coherent synchrony that introduces each to the all, and makes each the transmitter of integrated Mind. It is DNA that listens to language and sound,changes its ‘mind’, and its instructions and talks throughout the biosphere. Writers, dancers and musicians express what Neuro scientists are trying to pin down, like the butterfly collections under glass- not only no longer living, but netted in the wrong arena. Instinctively we trust body language, and cells speak louder and instantly, yet belief in the supremacy of brain blinds all inquiry. It is an ‘interpreter’ that’s all.

It is becoming commonplace to  hear ‘You create your world- just change your outlook’ but somehow this is seldom levelled at the collective creation of science and its materialism.

The left brain has had the field for too long, this symphonic prose liberty with language was to re-engage the right brain and the heart, reviving the wood, carved heedlessly by the scientific intellect, leaving only desolate bones.

'Well that's it. Not here.' 'Where next' Tunnel under Swizerland? 'Worth a try!'
‘Well that’s it. Not here.’
‘Where next’
Tunnel under Schweitz?
‘Worth a try!’



Author: philipparees

A writer ( mostly narrative poetry) of fiction and non-fiction. Self publisher of fiction and Involution-An Odyssey Reconciling Science to God (Runner-up Book of the Year (2013), One time builder ( Arts centre) Mother of four daughters: Companion of old man and old dog: One time gardener, lecturer, wannabe cellist, mostly enquirer of 'what's it all about', blogger and things as yet undiscovered.

6 thoughts on “‘Symphonic Prose’? Why not ‘Metaphysical Poetry’?”

  1. May I suggest that, in form and meter, this quote you use is “mid-way” between symphonic prose and the too-common linear writing:

    “The intellect may be compared to a carver, but it has the peculiarity of imagining that the chicken always was the separate pieces into which the carving knife divides it.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Both of you are delving deeper than I did! As far as wood versus trees I was merely meaning the ‘forest’ as a whole rather than the separate components that constitute it Ashen. I quite agree with your more profound use of ‘wood’ as ‘substance’! Alexander the quote to me is pretty much linear and fairly prosaic prose, but his point merely supported my questioning about the tendency of science to carve and then make of carvings units of independent importance.


  3. All I’m going to say is that the above article, as a whole, without dividing it into parts, without, thus, extracting its soul, is one the finest articles I’ve ever read. ‘Soulful’, at last defined, soul sister. I knew I could rely on you…


  4. Thank you Chris. The difficulty of having to track through linear language to reach the pith is overcome by those who recognise the pith to start with! That is perhaps why the book reaches those without narrow affiliation, but not so easily the orthodox of either persuasion spiritual or scientific.


    1. Absolutely, Phillipa. I can’t agree more.

      It is indeed rather like the so-called literary agent who might claim to not know where your book is going, for simply catching the wrong bus…


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