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....