Monday, March 10, 2008

Vision and Mundanity

From Barbara Guest's essay "Vision and Mundanity" in her collection Forces of Imagination: Writing on Writing:

"It seems possible that words may occur in a fixed space and sequence so they can be called 'words of a poem.' We may then say the poem is made of words. And it is true that many poems are constructed solely of words. These are the words that sit on paper without vision.

The place where vision should glow in a poem may also be occupied by ideas. These ideas, unless proceeding from vision, are the utensils of words. Inorganic, they preempt the shape of vision.

Words without vision are deprived of stability. They cling desperately to a mirrored surface in an effort to attach themselves to a surface because they have no direction and no stabilized vocation. They become furtive, thirsty for a version of themselves that contains no failure of vision. Words contain their own beauty of face, but they desire an occupation. They cannot exist in beauty or necessity alone. They need dimension. They desire finally an elevation in space. The poet of vision understands the auditory and emotional needs of the words and frees them so that the word becomes both an elemental and physical being, and continuous in movement." (88-9)

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