Quotable: Iain McGilchrist on poetry

“Poetry engraves itself in the brain: it doesn’t just slip smoothly over the cortex as language normally does. It has all the graininess of life, as it rips into being from deep within the limbic system, the ancient seat of awareness and affective meaning. Sometimes this is most obvious in a foreign language, because there the smooth, familiar words recede, and the sheer awesomeness of what is meant comes refreshed by the new encounter. As a child I was bewitched by the poems of Heine that my father would recite to me while shaving. Im Abendsonnenschein . . . I remember thinking then that the real word for sunshine was Sonnenschein. So, too, something seemed missing when things disappeared: they only truly disappeared when they were verschwunden. This is odd because my father was a Scot and my mother English. It seems like a sort of latent knowledge.”

–Iain McGilchrist, “Four Walls”, in Poetry Magazine

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