Tuesday, April 3, 2007

on the precision of language. sort of.

Something about precision of language is so beautiful. I love poems that say succinctly what they want to say. This is a daunting topic to broach, because now, here I am, weighing carefully each word I type and feeling it's lack and it's inability to convey a specific meaning. (That "so" in the first sentence wants to be changed, but to what exactly? At present, I cannot tell.) And while I don't have time this morning to let this post distill into something else possibly more profound, I think that the word resonate may be closest to what I'm attempting to describe.

Think of a single note being played on a cello. A lower note; not too low, but low enough that it reaches your core, your very center. A poem that can resonate inside of us causes either an empathetic or sympathetic response that binds us to those words. And in this case, it may be the sympathetic reaction that is the most powerful, because it allows us to understand something that we have never experienced ourselves.

Someone has decreed it that April is National Poetry Month. And though I came across an essay online decrying this phenomenon because it simply causes us to cater to the most common denominator by providing a collection of watered down poetry for the masses, or something like that, I don't mind it. I'm not out to convince you that poetry, like beets, isn't all that bad, and is in fact, good for you. That said, I like beets and poetry. California Pizza Kitchen has a great salad with beets in it, and you can come here for a few poems and some thoughts on poetry, if you like.

Today I'll share with you a single sentence. A good line in a poem can make me positively giddy, make me laugh out loud with delight, even though the subject matter may be serious. Of course, most good lines require the context of the other good lines that surround it, the whole poem is created for a reason; but this line by the late Leslie Norris says just as much outside of the poem as it does inside the poem it resides in. (From the poem Borders).
And Sally Taylor, her mother dying in the next room,
heard women's voices, young and laughing,
come in to fetch the old lady.

1 comment:

  1. I love the right poems. The right words. All that.

    I definitely have my use for poetry.

    I've stopped proselytizing though-- it seems to be something people get, or don't, and those that don't don't seem to like being reminded they don't.