Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > Themes in History > Art and Cultural History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

Art and Cultural History Art and Cultural History Forum - Music, Literature, Mythology, Visual Arts, Sports, Popular Culture

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old December 8th, 2012, 07:04 PM   #11
Joined: Mar 2012
From: USA
Posts: 3,261

The incidence of mood disorders, suicide and institutionalisation was 20 times higher among major British and Irish poets between 1600 and 1800 according to a study by psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison.

In other words, poets are 20 times more likely to end up in an asylum than the general population...
I had started a thread about genius in general a while back. Modern theory seems to be that geniuses generally are about twice as likely to become mentally ill as others. It is true, though, that artistic types tend off the rails more than scientists.

RoryOMore is online now  
Remove Ads
Old December 9th, 2012, 10:07 AM   #12

Linschoten's Avatar
Joined: Aug 2010
From: Wessex
Posts: 12,554
Blog Entries: 11

Tasso is another good example of a mad poet.
[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torquato_Tasso"]Torquato Tasso - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]

Here is Delacroix's painting of him:
Click the image to open in full size.

Baudelaire wrote this poem about the painting:

Le poète au cachot, débraillé, maladif,
Roulant un manuscrit sous son pied convulsif,
Mesure d'un regard que la terreur enflamme
L'escalier de vertige où s'abîme son âme.

Les rires enivrants dont s'emplit la prison
Vers l'étrange et l'absurde invitent sa raison;
Le Doute l'environne, et la Peur ridicule,
Hideuse et multiforme, autour de lui circule.

Ce génie enfermé dans un taudis malsain,
Ces grimaces, ces cris, ces spectres dont l'essaim
Tourbillonne, ameuté derrière son oreille,

Ce rêveur que l'horreur de son logis réveille,
Voilà bien ton emblème, åme aux songes obscurs,
Que le Réel étouffe entre ses quatre murs!

Translated as follows by Roy Campbell:

The poet, sick, and with his chest half bare
Tramples a manuscript in his dark stall,
Gazing with terror at the yawning stair
Down which his spirit finally must fall.

Intoxicating laughs which fill his prison
Invite him to the Strange and the Absurd.
With ugly shapes around him have arisen
Both Doubt and Terror, multiform and blurred.

This genius cooped in an unhealthy hovel,
These cries, grimaces, ghosts that squirm and grovel
Whirling around him, mocking as they call,

This dreamer whom these horrors rouse with screams,
They are your emblem, Soul of misty dreams
Round whom the Real erects its stifling wall.
Linschoten is offline  
Old December 9th, 2012, 11:44 AM   #13

Robespierre's Avatar
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,440

I am a writer and am Bi-Polar.

Naturally everything I write is gold. I just look into the mirror and see that bi-polar face and find myself brimming with genius ideas.

Seriously now, I am bi-polar and a writer. I've often looked at the long list of supposed writers, poets, and artists who are suffering with some kind of mental illness. It will make me feel good. I thought of it like a superpower. It made me feel like I was one of the X-Men. Then I think about all the artists who have this illness and made it nowhere. Made it to prison. The hospital. Or suicide.

I'd also like to point out that it's not always easy to tell if a historical person had mental illness. There needs to be a lot of sources to back up the claim. Believe me, I've studied these lists of people in hope that we were the same and that I'd be great just as they were. It's hard to diagnose someone properly with mental illness in the present day and nearly impossible to do in the past. We didn't have psychiatrists back then. People often labeled mental illness in different ways than we do now. It's hard to correlate one to another.

Mental illness can lead to genius but it can also lead to suicide.
Robespierre is offline  
Old December 9th, 2012, 12:52 PM   #14

Gile na Gile's Avatar
Tame O' Tama Shanterin
Joined: May 2008
From: Fireland
Posts: 4,440
Blog Entries: 167

Traditionally, few people could ever afford to call themselves 'poets'; like painters and musicians their craft is predicated on an ongoing stream of creativity; a time-consuming luxury which the working classes could seldom afford, until that is, the concern of poetry itself officially became that of 'everyman' ie the birth of nationalism & the age of the Romantics. Poetic conventions themselves underwent drastic changes at the tail end of the enlightenment; prior to this a certain sliver of top drawer education was required - hence it was generally a preserve of the upper classes who had the necessary store of obscure Greek or Roman allusions from which to draw & with which they'd flatter an elite chattering class attached like flotsam to some soon to be superannuated monarchy or other.

The disaffected middle class rips overcome with the proverbial soul tormenting ennui seems to be a creation of industrialisation - as being now divorced from 'official' sanction, be it royal patronage or aristocratic clientalism in general (which they neither seek or want), are instead hurled out into an indifferent world and creating instead from the 'smithy of their souls' - as Joyce would have it. Once 'the poet' is thrown entirely upon their own resources and is engaged in this obscure and damnable business of 'forging the world anew', without reference to pre-established conventions from which a steady stream of bankable lucre may have been otherwise obtained, then we may fairly said to have arrived at a point where 'madness' becomes an unavoidable career hazard.

Rote learning, systematicity, bureaucratisation, predictable daily routines - all of these things protect us from the tempests within, and any who dabble at all in this business of piercing the quotidian veil, unearthing the mainspring of human concerns and pouring it all onto a canvass of their own making should find themselves, if their art is to have any 'steel' at all, prone to periodic wobblers; in short, spasmodic interludes of mind-clarifying insanity. I think it's the necessary empathic function behind creating a culturally valuable object - a sensitivity attuned to the travails of all creatures under the sun, an unbearable kaleidoscopic compass is formed embracing all at once; unmoored, adrift in an ever-changing tumultous sea where every brick, hinge and bolt which supports consensual reality is daily brought under a withering disbelieving gaze - all collapses and dissolves under the Muse's whip, until eureka, she sings again; meaning, dry land, a new dawn, at last.
Gile na Gile is offline  
Old December 9th, 2012, 12:52 PM   #15

funakison's Avatar
Joined: Oct 2012
From: Between a rock and a hard place
Posts: 5,154
Blog Entries: 1

There is a fine line between genius and insanity. i know its a tired old cliche but there is more than a grain of truth in it. Of course if you start adding a bit of laudinum to the mix you really start spicing things up. Most of the English Romantics were on opiates of one form or another so there were times when their behaviour might not have been to the liking of polite socirty, and as you gave pointed out mental ilness is hard enough to spot today, let alone 200 years ago.
funakison is online now  
Old December 10th, 2012, 04:12 AM   #16

Essa's Avatar
Joined: Jul 2012
From: Bahrain
Posts: 1,942

I'd recall Abu Nawas.....

He's one the famous poets at Haron Al-Rashid time....very well known for his indulgances and sexual ojectification of women and boys

He's famous for "Al-Khammriyat" (poems or Diwans describing Wine), for "Al-Mujuniyyat" (poems describing sexual indulgances), and Mockery poems....It was said that he once kissed a lady right at the Black Stone in Mecca .....If that is true, the guys is totally screwed !!

Then comes the craziest about him !.....After all this madness, Abu Nawas eventually "repented" and produced some of the best apologetic poems
Essa is offline  
Old December 14th, 2012, 05:42 AM   #17

IndicanaHelvetica's Avatar
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 11
Blog Entries: 1

I hope we're not considering mental instability. Madness is the thing you'd want if you want to be any kind of an artist.
For a madman, society has set no limits to his thinking. He is on his own. Power to think differently is what this world calls madness.
IndicanaHelvetica is offline  
Old December 14th, 2012, 06:26 AM   #18
Joined: Nov 2012
From: Pax juxta probitatem
Posts: 1,621
Blog Entries: 14

Originally Posted by IndicanaHelvetica View Post
I hope we're not considering mental instability. Madness is the thing you'd want if you want to be any kind of an artist.
For a madman, society has set no limits to his thinking. He is on his own. Power to think differently is what this world calls madness.
Ying tong iddle I po to that. Amply demonstrated by Milligan and the Goons, all barking? And while I remember; "I must go down to the sea again,
to the lonely sea and the sky;
I left my shoes and socks there -
I wonder if they're dry?"
(Milligan, S. And Mr. to you ;-)
John Paul is offline  
Old December 14th, 2012, 03:55 PM   #19

Mangekyou's Avatar
Joined: Jan 2010
From: UK
Posts: 7,687
Blog Entries: 5

If you want "mad", "eccentric" poets, then look no further than the cadre called the Bouzingo.

This is some preface writing and information about the group from a book written about them: Todd Pendu » Blog Archive » Bouzingo Means Noise: Freaks, Weirdos, Visionaries, and Outsiders

Theophile Gautier was a particularly interesting man. This is a poem from his anthology; Émaux et Camées (Enamels and Cameos) which I read as part of my literature degree.


Red of nose and white of face,
Bent his desk of ice before,
Winter doth his theme retrace
In the season's quatuor,—
Beating measure and the ground
With a frozen foot for us,
Singing with uncertain sound
Olden tunes and tremulous.
And as Haendel's wig sublime
Trembling shook its powder, oft
Flutter as he taps his time
Snow-flakes in a flurry soft.

In the Tuileries fount the swan
Meets the ice, and all the trees,
As in land of fairies wan,
Arc bedecked with filigrees.
Flowers of frost in vases low
Stand unquickened and unstirred,
And we trace upon the snow
Starred footsteps of a bird.
Where with lightest raiment spanned,
Venus was with Phocion met,
Now has Winter's hoary hand
Clodion's "Chilly Maiden" set.

Women pass in ermine dress,
Sable, too, and miniver,
And the shivering goddesses
Haste to don the fashion's fur.
Venus of the Brine comes forth,
In her hooded mantle's fluff.
Flora, blown by breezes North,
Hides her fingers in her muff.
And the shepherdesses round
Of Coustou and Coysevox,
Finding scarves too light have wound
Furs about their throats of snow.

Heavy doth the North bedrape
Paris mode from foot to top,
As o'er fair Athenian shape
Scythian should a bearskin drop.
Over winter's garments meet,
Everywhere we see the fur,
Flung with Russian pomp, and sweet
With the fragrant vetiver.
Pleasure's laughing glances feast
Far amid the statues, where
From the bristles of a beast
Bursts a Venus torso fair!
If you venture hitherward,
With a tender veil to cheat
Glances over-daring, guard
Well your Andalusian feet!
Snow shall fashion like a frame
On your foot's impression rare,
Signing with each step your name
On the carpet soft and vair.
Thus were surly master led
To the hidden trysting-place,
Where his Psyche, faintly red,
Were beheld in Love's embrace

Source: The Project Gutenberg eBook of Enamels and Cameos, by Theophile Gautier
Mangekyou is offline  

  Historum > Themes in History > Art and Cultural History

madness, poets

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Dead Poets Society Isoroku295 History in Films and on Television 5 March 20th, 2010 05:45 AM
The Madness of Mary Lincoln HistoryFreak1912 American History 15 September 3rd, 2009 08:56 AM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.