A Crackling of Thorns

A Crackling of Thorns

A Crackling of Thorns

A Crackling of Thorns

Excerpt

Every poem, be it big or small, simple or complex, is recognizably a world. What we call the world we infer to be a world, but no individual can perceive it as such; for each of us it is broken into fragments, some of which he knows quite well, some a little, some not at all, and even of those he knows best he can never truthfully say "I know what it is" but only "I know what it was."

In a poetic world, however, these obstacles to knowledge are eliminated: in a poem there are no strangers -- every inhabitant is related to every other and the relationship is known; there are no secrets -- a reader may notice something on a second reading which he missed on the first, but it was never concealed; there is no chance -- the series of cause and effect is without any hiatus; and there is no time but the present -- nothing can grow, die, or change.

There is among poetic worlds, however, an element of physical diversity which is lacking in the worlds, for instance, of painting and music; though the inhabitants of all poetic worlds are made of a verbal substance, this has developed into different linguistic strains which rarely permit of intermarriage. English is a more mongrel tongue than most and, for this reason, is perhaps the least prejudiced against words of another color; but even in English successful assimilation is rare and cannot be hurried.

So far as the practical and political life of the world is concerned, what happened at the Tower of Babel must, no doubt, be regarded as a curse but for poetry I can imagine no greater blessing. Indeed, at a time when so many of the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.