|Breaking Through - Page 8|
Such a poem reminds us that nature at its rudest can take us to the knife-edge of existence, to the frontier between life and death, where being fully alive can mean being fully terrified. That we're coddled and swaddled and kept from life's harsher realities may help explain why so many of us cruise through our days on autopilot, but we lose something critical to truly living—perhaps the most vital part of ourselves—when we just dog-paddle through the years toward the safe faraway shore of retirement, looking neither to left nor right.
When so much of the language we hear every day is cliched, formulaic, incoherent, or downright meretricious, poetry—particularly when spoken with the mesmerizing flair that Whyte brings to it—can break through the grimy crust of debased verbiage to something fresh and genuine beneath. Good poetry by its very existence breaks the malign spell of language cheapened as an agent of sale: whether to make us buy a product or a politician, it hardly matters. Poetry as propaganda is an oxymoron, because a good poem can never be anything other than "true" at a deep level.