In Which Men do not go Mad by Dreaming

Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason…Perhaps the strongest case of all is…that only one great English poet went mad, Cowper. And he was definitely driven mad by logic, by the ugly and alien logic of predestination. Poetry was not the disease, but the medicine; poetry partly kept him in health. He could sometimes forget the red and thirsty hell to which his hideous necessitarianism dragged him among the wide waters and the white flat lilies of the Ouse. He was damned by John Calvin; he was almost saved by John Gilpin…

Critics are much madder than poets…Though St. John the evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own commentators…

Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion…The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.

– G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, pp. 18-22.

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