Monday, April 16, 2012

Some deliquescent, quasi-mystical vacuity

...There will always be something in any poem, some reverberation of the numinous, which is not patient of explication, otherwise it would not be a poem.
     But I must insist that I am not endorsing a lapse into some deliquescent, quasi-mystical vacuity. That would be an insupportable cop-out. The poet may ask of his reader the willing suspension of disbelief; he does not, ever, ask for any diminution of the critical faculties. On the contrary, he would have the reader's critical faculties raised to the highest possible degree. No one can be more aware of the fact that, if everything means everything, then nothing means anything. Purgatory would be for me a perpetual mooning about in some gormless Dream-Analysis Workshop. The poet attempts to work within the most stringent of strictures; he abhors above all else the slovenly, the imprecise, in thought or in language.

--Richard Outram, "An Exercise in Exegesis," from Richard Outram: Essays on His Works

1 comment:

David Godkin said...

Hmmm...not sure this passage meets its own test for intelligence and precision. I mean “deliquescent, quasi-mystical vacuity”? why not “vacuous deliquescent, quasi-mysticism”? And surely he’s not saying that to dream (never mind "dream analysis”) is incompatible with stringent adherence to the clear or precise. Or is he?