“a poem is getting at something mysterious”

I loved this quote from J. I. Kleinberg’s  The Poetry Department so much that I am compelled to share it with you:

“…it’s the nature of the work that a poem is getting at something mysterious, which no amount of staring at straight-on has ever solved, something like death or love or treachery or beauty. And we keep doing this corner-of-the-eye thing. I remember when we were in training to be night fliers in the Navy, I learned, very strangely, that the rods of the eye perceive things at night in the corner of the eye that we can’t see straight ahead. That’s not a bad metaphor for the vision of art. You don’t stare at the mystery, but you can see things out of the corner of your eye that you were supposed to see.”

William Meredith  (January 9, 1919 – May 30, 2007)

1 reply
  1. Janet Hamilton
    Janet Hamilton says:

    I like his “seeing out of the corner of your eye” metaphor….so true. Poetry is not straight forward, even when one’s style seems that way. When I paint, I often squint or blurr my eyes to see “more”…more of the simplicity, or larger effects of what’s out there. And sometimes glancing (from the corner of your eye?) can help you “feel” a color or movement.


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