Poetry Should Frighten

Mill-ktieb ta’ David Cappella u Baron Wormser, Teaching the Art of Poetry: The Moves (New Jersey, USA: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2000):

  • “In truth, poetry – to a degree – should frighten. Poems cannot be condensed, systematized, or quantified. Poetry concisely registers on the nerves the whole skein [fig. a tangle, confusion; transf. a flight of wildfowl, especially geese or swans) of human emotions. It harrows, enthralls, awes, dazzles, confides.” [xiii]
  • “A poem doesn’t wile away time; it engages our fleetingness and makes it articulate. It seizes time and shapes it.” [xiii]
  • “Poetry is the art of language and that is the glorious difficulty of it.” [xiv]
  • “Poetry remains an art of essences and essences are unnerving. Poetry is respectably referential […] but it also exists unto itself and it cares only for its own perfection – the consort of sounds, rhythm, words, form, pauses.” [xiv]
  • “Words in poems are two-faced, looking both toward the everyday world and that which is art and exists on its own terms.” [xiv]
  • “Poems make us feel [like songs they’re not simply meant to mean] and there is only so much to be gained in explicating feelings.” [xvi]

“For poetry is above all a physical experience. It is the stuff of sound and rhythm and speech, of muscle and voice box and vision and breath and pulse. It affects us physically when we speak it and listen to it. Without that physical basis there is no poetry.” [xviii]

15 October 2003


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