“Urgently we try commu-
icating,” Donald Winnicott
declared, “while keeping out of view
what we believe is better not
communicated and revealed,
so what is literal is not what
we mean: although our lips aren’t sealed,
what’s said counts less than what we blot.
Ambiguity may come
to rescue us, if we are smart,
but if, like most, we’re really dumb,
a literal horse will pull our cart.
That’s why, of course, we need midrash,
which speaks in many, many voices,
and, giving a heart-warming rush,
connects us with a lot of choices.
The original idea for this poem is in my poem “Literal Meaning” (1/30/02)
The literal meaning is a trap
that Harold Bloom equates with death;
don’t fall into it when you rap
with prophets who declare, “God saith.”
Stacey D’Erasmo reviews “Oracle Night” by Paul Auster in the NYT Book Review (November 30, 2003) and writes:
[A]s the psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott once put it, artists are continually torn between ''the urgent need to communicate, and the still more urgent need not to be found.''