specific gravity

What does a writer of prose learn from poetry? The dependence of a word’s specific gravity on context, focused thinking, omission of the self-evident, the dangers that lurk with an elevated state of mind.


[Marina Tsvetaeva] never has enough space: either in a poem or in prose. Even her most scholarly-sounding essays are always like elbows protruding from a small room. A poem is constructed on the principle of the complex sentence, prose consists of grammatical enjambments…

—Joseph Brodsky, “A Poet and Prose,” Less Than One: Selected Essays (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1986)

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