Marjorie Perloff has described W C Williams's sections of poems as
"stanzas for the eye." And imagine hearing "Buffalo Bill's defunct. . ."
without the amazing line cuts.
I am interested in Davies' complaint because I do not think "nor" is
exclusive to two. We use "or" in multiple situations; why must "nor" be
only in comparison?
In Moore, for example, it is really in most poems because most are
syllabic. So she sometimes cuts in the middle of a word even--an
important almost-pause that would not be heard.
I'm finding all sorts of interesting grammar issues lately on this list.
Date sent: Tue, 8 Apr 2003 10:50:50 -0500
Send reply to: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
From: Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Seeing and Listening, was Re: Grammar (you and I)
To: [log in to unmask]
On oral vs writing. Some of the greatest lines of English poetry have to
be both seen and "heard" in the head. Reading them aloud is either
impossible or would spoil them.
'Tis true, on Words is still our whole debate,
Disputes of _Me_ or _Te_, of _aut_ or _at_,
To sound or sink in _cano_, O or A,
Or give up Cicero to C or K.
That last line is the duck/rabbit graphic translated into words.
But also, the shape on the page, as in many poems of W.C. Williams, in
which an essential part is the movement of the eye over the line end, an
'organic' response which would be lost if the poems appealed only to the
"ear." Or consider such supreme metrical triumphs as the following:
. . .and
poor old Homer blind,
blind as a bat,
Ear, ear for the sea-surge;
rattle of old men's voices.
And then the phantom Rome,
marble narrow for seats
I won't type it out here, but Marianne Moore's wonderful poem, "Four
Quartz Crystal Clocks," must be both seen and heard simultaneously. TWL
first came alive for me 53 years ago this summer when I heard Eliot's own
recording of it -- but that would have been merely a buzz had I not _also_
been following the text with my eyes.
P.S. In one of his books Donald Davie objects to the "bad grammar" of the
second "nor" in
I was neither at the hot gates
Nor fought in the warm rain
Nor knee deep in the salt marsh....