Poetry And Religion

by Les Murray

Religions are poems. They concert

our daylight and dreaming mind, our

emotions, instinct, breath and native gesture

into the only whole thinking: poetry.

Nothing's said till it's dreamed out in words

and nothing's true that figures in words only.

A poem, compared with an arrayed religion,

may be like a soldier's one short marriage night

to die and live by. But that is a small religion.

Full religion is the large poem in loving repetition;

like any poem, it must be inexhaustible and complete

with turns where we ask Now why did the poet do that?

You can't pray a lie, said Huckleberry Finn;

you can't poe one either. It is the same mirror:

mobile, glancing, we call it poetry,

fixed centrally, we call it a religion,

and God is the poetry caught in any religion,

caught, not imprisoned. Caught as in a mirror

that he attracted, being in the world as poetry

is in the poem, a law against its closure.

There'll always be religion around while there is poetry

or a lack of it. Both are given, and intermittent,

as the action of those birds; crested pigeon, rosella parrot -

who fly with wings shut, then beating, and again shut.