Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Retrospect

Here is another piece of criticism-manifesto that contains loads of good stuff (that's technical jargon for interesting and important information on or about poetry and poetics). Pound's original text, like Marinetti's a few posts down, overflows with quotable material to the point of word-for-word reproduction, so I limit the excerpts to a few.

From Ezra Pound's "A Retrospect":

"Let the candidate fill his mind with the finest cadences he can discover, preferably in a foreign language so that the meaning of the words may be less likely to divert his attention from the movement."

"No man ever writes very much poetry that 'matters.' In bulk, that is, no one produces much that is final...he had much better be making the sorts of experiments which may be of use to him in his later work, or to his successors."

"No good poetry is written in a manner twenty years old, for to write in such a manner shows conclusively that the writer thinks from books, convention and cliche, and not from life."

Also, from Ezra Pound's "How to Read":

"Melopoeia, wherein the words are charged, over and above their plain meaning, with some musical property, which directs the bearing or trend of that meaning."

"In melopoeia we find a contrary current, a force tending often to lull, or to distract the reader from the exact sense of the language. It is poetry on the borders of music and music is perhaps the bridge between consciousness and the unthinking sentient or even insentient universe."


Bill Smith said...

I read these Feb posting and one question rings from them with each end quote: why do you care who understands (or does not understand) your writing and of which group they belong?

Does the lack of knowledge of classic Greek text, so that I can not read Elliot with any understanding, make me lazy? thought this is not the question but rather... why do you care?

Is it because some people attack your writing saying it's dribble because they can't get it? But one of the points here was that understanding is secondary.

So by placing these snippets here, you almost negate the purpose of your writing to begin with.

Help me out.

Warchevski said...


The quotations from February were excerpts from a series of manifestos and statements on poetics I found interesting and, as a whole, should not necessarily be read as a) defense of my own "dribble," or b) a linear-logical argument.

I posted the quotations to function as a constellation of poetics by several writers. Whether individual excerpts "negate" one another is not the point; placing them in dialogue with one another is.

As for knowledge of "Greek text[s]," well that certainly doesn't make YOU lazy. In fact, I have no idea who you are or what your knowledge-base consists of. What I can say is that there are several people I have come in contact with lately that call themselves poets or students of poetry and batter writers such as Stein without reading or thinking critically about the work; when, in this particular instance, such non-critical views are both validated and institutionalized...well, I find that rather disturbing.

As for my "dribble," understanding by the aforementioned is of no bother to me, and I suppose shouldn't bother you. Apropos your comments, I'll quote from Stein once more: "No one is ahead of his time, it is only that the particular variety of creating his time is the one that his contemporaries who also are creating their own time refuse to accept. And they refuse to accept it for a very simple reason and that is that they do not have to accept it for any reason."