MANSÜR AL-HALL � J AND THE POETRY OF ECSTASY I Throughout the ages, poets and mystics of all nations have perhaps had one fundamental problem in common and that is, how to express the inexpressable; how to speak the unspeakable.' Language is a double- edged sword. It creates and it negates; it fulfils and it annuls. A most powerful tool and yet, in times of intense spiritual or emotional crisis, an even more powerful obstacle, rendering the speaking, feeling subject either dumb or "insane" or in some hallucinatory limbo between the two. If we define the poet-mystic or not-as the speaking subject par excellence then this is his or her peculiar burden. Post-Romantic Euro- pean poets have often contended with language-that powerful, dear enemy-and lost; poets as far apart as Gerard de Nerval, Georg Trakl and Paul Celan struggled to speak the unspeakable, to write the unwritable and finally withdrew into the Silence, madness and suicide being the consequences. And after all, what is madness (to make use of a metaphor) but the inability to use language, to speak rationally? For the great mystics, this crisis of language is defined not as crisis but as ecstasy; a possession
Journal of Arabic Literature – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1990
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