"Papyrus" by Ezra Pound.  3 lines, 4 words and 19 dots.  Pound's poem
refers to a Sappho fragment.


Rick Seddon

Portales, NM





From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf
Of cr mittal
Sent: Sunday, July 01, 2007 11:46 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Boundaries of Poetry


POETRY : ironic points of light


Dear Listers,


This is to raise a question about the boundaries of poetry.


There already is the wholistic approach to poetic hermeneutics

-- the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts -- and the parts

have an existence only in relation to the whole.


What I draw your attention to is nothing new, perhaps, but to which

little attention has been paid.  And this is : a fragment of poetry

 -- it could be a word, a phrase, a line, or more -- has a life of its

own too, apart from its existence as an organic part of a poem.


And that fragment may resound loud with new meanings in fresh

contexts unknown to its readers in the first place.


Imagine a scenario where an international gang of ivory dealers

rule the roost and where their voice alone is heard -- mere cynical

whispers passing between nations divided by mutual hatred and 

distrust, reduced to pawns in a game of chess. 


In that scenario, Eliot's line,

The ivory men make company between us ,

would, indeed, voice a new reality, bleaker than what obtained 

at an individual level in the poem.  One might find its expression

in public and popular discourse of the day, without knowledge 

even of its restricted meaning in the poem.


This is possible, and this is valid in a way because, as Eliot said

somewhere, even a poet himself is not always conscious of the full 

ramifications of what he writes.  People will always find in poetry

a new means of subsistence -- a new voice to articulate its new 






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