Poetry – a Foreign Language

Let the beginning of the next line catch the rise of the rhythm wave, unless you want a definite longish pause.

Naturally, your rhythmic structure should not destroy the shape of your words, or their natural sound, or their meaning…

The Musician can rely on pitch and the volume of the orchestra. You can not. The term harmony is misapplied in poetry; it refers to simultaneous sounds of different pitch…

I was surprised to see Pound make so many parallels between different aspects of music and poetry, and the more I read, the more I realized that a major reason why poetry seems to foreign to me is that I can’t say I get poetic rhythm. I am familiar with musical rhythm, what I like and don’t like when it comes to music, but with poetry, it’s hard for me to decide what I like and don’t like. I don’t know what Pound means when he says “catch the rise of the rhythm wave,” or how rhythmic structure can “destroy the shape of your words” (does this simply mean putting words together that don’t sound good together?). I don’t where the line between “good abstract” and “bad abstract” is (I get the idea that being specific is always best, but my impression of a lot of poetry is that they are still abstract even if they use specific imageries, because the specific imageries are linked together in a very abstract way, and I often still end up feeling lost).  I like to read things I understand – most of the time I feel as if there is at least 70% of the poem I don’t understand. Images are important to ground me in a poem and to make a poem more relatable; images also tend to tell more stories than words. I have to say, I blame mostly myself for it, because I read very little poetry. That is probably why I do not speak the language.


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