The Golden Journey To Samarkand: Prologue

As my debut podcast I choose this fine work by one of my very favourite poets, James Elroy Flecker. This is not only because it is appropriate in its intended function as a prologue to subsequent poetic art, but also since I feel it embodies, in many ways, what it is that poetry does at its very best. It achieves something more than at first appears possible in so short a space, and more than can actually be expressed in the words themselves. It asks a rhetorical question which is then both answered and not answered. It asks what poetry does, and answers that poetry “beguiles”, and in the answer it leads away, it leads the reader’s mind away from that starting point, to strange and far images, and lands, to places only half defined by concept, and half by emotion and feeling. It answers and does not answer the question. It answers and then answers it more fully by enacting the answer and transporting the listener. It answers by showing them what in some sense cannot be shown directly. It beguiles.

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