Friday, January 2, 2009

The most fantastic language conveying the most trivial thoughts

In a recent post Don Share quotes an excerpt from a letter from Jack Spicer in which he asserts: "Invention is merely the enemy of poetry". There's a passage in one of Drayton's Idea sonnets, which Coleridge calls 'odd' ...

As other men, so I myself do muse,

Why in this sort I wrest invention so;
And why these giddy metaphors I use,
Leaving the path the greater part do go;
I will resolve you: I am lunatic!

Coleridge brings this up in the context of his thoughts on the faults of poets:

the characteristic fault of our elder poets is the reverse of that, which distinguishes too many of our more recent versifiers; the one conveying the most fantastic thoughts in the most correct and natural language; the other in the most fantastic language conveying the most trivial thoughts. The latter is a riddle of words; the former an enigma of thoughts.

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