The Dormant Poet

“Know that there is often hidden in us a dormant poet, always young and alive.” — de Musset

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and your discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
— Patanjali

“There is in every true woman’s heart, a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.”
– Washington Irving

“The unique personality which is the real life in me, I can not gain unless I search for the real life, the spiritual quality, in others. I am myself spiritually dead unless I reach out to the fine quality dormant in others. For it is only with the god enthroned in the innermost shrine of the other, that the god hidden in me, will consent to appear.” — Felix Adler

“No human being ever learns to live until he has awakened to the dormant powers within him” –William James


They have asked me what it is to sing—
I struggle to explain it’s like a prayer,
that moment on the stage before you share
whatever waits inside you. Like some spring
that wells and inundates your mind with pure
strong, flowing sound, connected to a dream
from someone else’s sleep. You join their stream,
and they possess your will. You must be sure
that what you do comes from another place
and from another time. Yours is the trust
to bring a dormant poet face to face
with living spirits, shake away the dust.
And when belief enlivens every note,
then genius speaks unaided from your throat.

– Janet Kenny

Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Paris, 15 July 1875

Dear Theo,

Our Uncle Vincent visited us here, I saw him often and talked about a heap of things with him. I asked him if he saw any chance of getting you a place in the store in Paris.

At first he wouldn’t hear of it, saying that you were too valuable in The Hague. Then, after I insisted, he said he would think about it.

He will certainly come to see you while he is in The Hague; he is not going to change from his dullness, let him say what he wants, it will do no harm to you, and won’t do you any harm when you need something in the future. Don’t talk of me unless you need something.

He is very, very clever. When I was here last winter, one of the things he said to me was, “Supernatural things I may not know, but I know everything about natural things.” I do not know if those were his exact words, but that was the meaning.

I can also tell you that one of his favourite pictures is “Lost Illusions” by Gleyre.

Sainte-Beuve said, “In most men there exists a poet who died young, whom the man survived.” And Musset said, “Know that often a dormant poet is hidden within us, always young and alive.” I think Uncle Vincent belongs to the first group. So you know whom you are dealing with. Ask him squarely if he can arrange for you to have authority here or in London.

Thank you for your letter that came this morning and the poem by Rückert. Do you have a copy of his poems? I would love to get to know them. As soon as I have a chance, I shall send you a French Bible, and The Imitation of Christ. It was probably the favourite book of that lady painted by Ph. de Champaigne. There is a portrait of her daughter, a nun, in The Louvre, also by Ph. de Ch. She has l’Imitation on the chair beside her.

Father wrote to me once: “You know that the same mouth which said: “Be as harmless as the doves,” and straight away added: “and wise as a serpent.” [Matt. 10:16] Keep that in mind and believe me always,

Your loving brother, Vincent

Do you have the photographs after Meissonier in the gallery? Look at them often; he has painted men. Probably you know his “Le Fumeur à la Fenêtre” and “Le jeune Homme Déjeunant.”

At this time, Vincent was 22 year old

Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 15 July 1875 in Paris. Translated by Robert Harrison, edited by Robert Harrison, published in Facsimile of original letter, number 031.