to Murray, our consciousness is divided between dreaming and daylight. The poetic
experience is best a harmony between the two. If either is allowed to dominate,
something destructive takes places. Daylight alone becomes repressive and cold, while
dreaming over daylight becomes psychosis. The best is a harmonious balance of the
two found in poems. Art and poetry give us "signals" or intimations of the
secret, invisible world. Daylight is the world of words and "normality,"
while the dreamworld is the realm of symbol and atmosphere. Likewise, Murray uses the
terms "wholespeak" and "narrowspeak" to discuss these realms.
"Wholespeak," according to Murray is "properly integrated poetic
discourse," while "narrowspeak" is "the exclusive sovereignty of
daylight reason" ("Embodiment" 66). The former he associates with the
realm of dreaming. The later has its proper function in that it keeps us from
"the strain and fallout of wholespeak."
Murray sometimes seems to draw a distinction between a
"poem" as a verbal or individual particular expression of dreamspeak and
"poeme" as a larger cultural belief, such as a religion or political ideology.
(Though at other times "poem" is used interchangely for both.)
The body for Murray stands between daylight and wholespeak.
"Embodiment" is the best term "to describe how a fusion of thinking and
dreaming acquires some exterior form" ("Poems" 191). When something
is "embodied" it is more than summed up, it is incarnated, enfleshed. The body
makes it possible for us to experience poetry through the mediation of our breath and
muscles. The work of our body is at hand when we perform a poem and thus give life
to the words on the page. A fine poem must not be commented upon and elucidated as much as
meditated upon and through. Both the reader and the audience respond bodily.
When we experience a great poem, we do so almost "vicariously."
Murray's definition of conscience is worth quoting in full:
If there is anywhere in us a sort of embassy of such
wholeness, it may be what we call our conscience--which some, at times to avoid the
Christian theology of it, prefer to call their integrity. In my experience,
conscience shares with art an ability to be instantaneously and convincingly there and a
total resistance to untruth (you can't lie in art, any more than in prayers), and it has
an eloquence both in and beyond words, and a stern logic that operates without any need of
them, seemingly at the level of design--we speak of artistic conscience, and mean a firmer
inner monitor which threatens to dissipate the essential effect of a work if we try to
flout or evade it, say by leaving something we know shouldn't be there, or by getting an
image near enough to right, instead of right-plus. In some ways, I would go close to
saying that the conscience resembles a permanent poem of ourselves that we carry within
ourselves, though not one which claims our attention unless we try to circumvent it or
some external influence challenges it (71).
It has some of the following components:
- an ability to be instantaneously and convincingly there
- a total resistance to untruth
- an eloquence both in and beyond words
- a stern logic that operates without any need of them,
- a firmer inner monitor which threatens to dissipate the
essential effect of a work if we try to flout or evade it
- a permanent poem of ourselves that we carry within ourselves
There is in Murray's thinking, then, a connection between conscience
and consciousness. Both have an immediacy that is not easily resisted. Yet as
he notes, conscience cannot be shown to someone else. Christ's incarnation reminds
us that need an embodiment of the truth, we need the law of conscience "raised to the
power of love and grace" ("Embodiment" 72).