carrying wave

It seems a writer has no need for more than one major feeling. Love, or envy, or fear, with deep, multitude ligatures and a good basic complex—he can get along pretty well with that. But he does need one feeling. On this wave he modulates the others and his whole universe. It’s his carrying feeling.

—Henri Michaux, "Observations"

literary toy

Avoid the company of those who take poetry for a literary toy.


circus of words

The poem was a nice circus of words, but I couldn't smell the animals nor hear the groan and creak of the trapeze.


driven to the dictionary in vain

A poet should be capable of driving the reader to a dictionary now and again; sometimes in frustration for what is not found therein.


greatest lyric poets

The greatest lyric poets, for instance Hölderlin or Keats, are poets in whom the mythic power of insight breaks forth again in its full intensity and objectifying power. But this objectivity has discarded all material constraints. The spirit lives in the word of language and in the mythical image without falling under the control of either. What poetry expresses is neither the mythic word-picture of gods or daemons, nor the logical truth of abstract determinations and relations. The world of poetry stands apart from both, as a world of illusion and fantasy—but it is just in this mode of illusion that the realm of pure feeling can find utterance, and can therewith attain its full and concrete actualization. Word and mythic image, which once confronted the human mind as hard realistic powers, have now cast off all reality and effectuality; they have become a light, bright ether in which the spirit can move without let or hindrance.

—Ernst Cassirer, “The Power of Metaphor,” Language and Myth, 1946


language atrophied

Their language atrophied and died because the culture lacked poets.


locution of the elided

Poetry as locution of what is normally elided.


hidden fire

Aquel que illumina las palabras opacas
Por el occulto fuego originario.

He who illuminates opaque words
With their original hidden fire.

—Luis Cernuda, "A un Poeta Muerto (F.G.L)"


criticism's mission

Criticism--not to drag down or to demean, but to exhort, to challenge, to impel.


trammel of time

To be constrained by rhythm is to be trammeled by time.


prose poetry defined

prose poem: a poem that eschews the line in favor of the sentence.


cosmos unto itself

A poem should be a cosmos unto itself.


concentrated attention

Each work of art excludes the world, concentrates attention on itself. For the time it is the only thing worth doing--to do just that; be it a sonnet, a statue, a landscape, an outline head of Caesar, or an oration.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, "A Self On Trial," Journals, vol. 8.


abiding faith

The love of words begins with their meanings and sounds, and develops into an abiding faith that these attributes can convey experience and emotion.