Monday, April 14, 2008

Thought for the Day

In his belief that a profound and passionate inner life was a prerequisite to composition, Yeats made his famous distinction between rhetoric and poetry: rhetoric comes from the quarrel with others (and looks outward to that audience as it shapes it sentences), but poetry issues forth from the self's quarrel with itself, which the poem exists to express (and sometimes to resolve). Expression, however, depends entirely upon the adequacy of the poet's technique: about that Yeats was very clear. In addressing technique he emphasized, in his maturity, three necessary qualities: that the poet's sentences should sound like speech, that words must be put in their "natural order," and that an emotional unity should connect the parts of a work of art. "I always try for the most natural order possible, largely to make thought which being poetical always is difficult to modern people as plain as I can."...The lack of one or more of these qualities was what he generally criticized in the work of others.

-Helen Vendler, Our Secret Discipline: Yeats and Lyric Form, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007) p. 1


Blogger Talia said...

Interesting. This makes a clear distinction between "slam poetry" and poetry.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Leslie said...

I have this book on order from interlibrary loan. I totally want to read it.

Let me know how it is. It could be weeks before it shows up here.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oooh, seems interesting. The last thing I read by Vendler was about bouncing.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Eason said...


12:59 PM  

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