The Hidden Work of Being

Poetry wonders and wanders among all things.
Nothing is left out.

I encountered a snail along my way today.  
I encountered it, and it encountered me.
Inconspicuously, we engaged one another.
 
A being, even the snail, puts words into my mouth, so to speak.
It opens itself to me, informs me,
       showing me what it is, what in-forms it.
The actuality of a being, by being there before me,
shows me what to say.
Thus, being comes to speaking.
But only by way of being seen,
     thanks to the light of the mind’s eye.
Because there must first be speaking
before I can say a word,
     language must come before my saying.
Think about it: What was the first word?  
How did words come to be if not from the prior actuality
     of a Word that grounds their possibility?
 
But speaking is only possible, or only needed,
     because there is hearing.
Speaking needs another who is there with ears to hear 
     what speaking has to give.
And hearing is only possible because we have words to share.  
Before I can say a word,
     being already has found a home in language,
     which gives me a word to say.
Nothing can be said if there is not already a word to say;
     a prior proceeding.
 
Yet new saying emerges.  
The river flows: always the same, a river, yet never the same, flowing.
Thus, language is always already and always not yet.
     for there is always more to say, more to come.
The freeing actuality of being encompasses all that is yet to say.
O that most marvelous act of transduction,
     that which mediates between my seeing and my saying, 
     giving without limit!
The illuminating freedom of that gift
     makes possible all that I may say,
a definite saying, freed from indetermination.
Is that to say that there is freedom in speech?
An essential freedom?
 
A being that is seen, a spatial event,
     gives rise to saying, a temporal event.
The soul weaves space and time together
     in the act between seeing and saying,
     flowing now between the actuality of this snail and me.
Space and time, filled with beings,
     participate in their surpassing source, 
     the unbounded actuality from which they spring,
the Word from which they are spoken.

The actuality behind all actuality, all possibility, all seeing, all saying,
     is not unmindful of this inconspicuous snail brought before me,
     speaking of itself, its being, its actuality
     fuller now in me.

Paul S. Julienne
April 18, 2019

This poem would not have been possible had I not read Martin Heidegger. Undoubtedly, Professor Heidegger could not have said it this way. But I expect St. Thomas, if he could hear it, would smile.

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