Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Poem Be

I'm one of the ones who constantly hear the music in poetry and smile at the words.

What follows is a nice explanation of the "thing in itself" that good poetry is by Billy Collins and the violations that most bad teachers and students of poetry so often inflict upon it. With an appreciative acknowledgment to Jeanette Winterson. Her fruitful website is located here:


by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a colour slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
And feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

As Archibald MacLeish so adroitly put it, "A poem should not mean / but be."

Exactly the same thing should be said about music.


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