UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LINKS
My work is a sequence of lyric poems in chronological order, a kind of spiritual diary. Its principal theme is our search for human values, grounded in our desire to establish connection with the natural world. These are nature poems in the widest sense, using observation of our natural environment to comment on the nature of the individual. The poems raise philosophical issues of knowledge and value -- investigating the means by which we know the world, how we form our understanding of it, how we determine our place in it. They also endeavour to engage our spiritual or inner life -- not only the intellectual questions and ways of understanding, but also those that grow out of our emotions and desires: Why are we drawn to beauty and repelled by its antithesis? What is the relationship of our drives and longings, our connections and separations, with those the natural world?
As a spiritual diary, these poems chronicle one person's struggle to achieve moments of peace, and release from suffering, through a sense of harmony with the beautiful, terrifying, and complex order of the world of which we are a part.
I call these poems lyric poems because a large part of their meaning is conveyed subverbally, deploying the rhythmic and musical qualities of language to complement its referential aspects. A line of one poem, for example, mimics exactly the cadence of a robin's song. The originators of the Sanskrit language believed that every sound had a unique effect on the human body. I don't know if this is so, but the music of my poems is as important as their meaning.
I believe that the purpose of art is to offer critical perspectives on the human situation in a way which also yields up pleasure. This is what I have tried to do with my poetry. How well I have succeeded is for you, the reader, to decide.
John Donlan's works copyright © to the author.