luminous detail

Ezra Pound makes the distinction between “multitudinous detail*” and “luminous detail” in a poem, the latter being that image that suggests so many others because it is connected somehow to the world, the universe, the collective experience of any number of people. We can make a list of all the images we remember from eighth grade, and try to fit as many possible into a poem (the multitudinous method), or we can try for those few that glow with connections, that suggest others (the luminous method). So many lasting poems are made of recollected, luminous detail.

—David Citino, “Tell Me How It Was in the Old Days,” The Eye of the Poet: Six Views of the Art and Craft of Poetry (Oxford Univ. Press, 2002)

*Ezra Pound, Selected prose, 1909-1965, William Cookson ed., New Directions, 1973, 22.

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