Wednesday, April 8, 2009


As the famous language poet, Emily Dickinson, wrote:
Much madness is divinest Sense
To the discerning Eye…
There's much madness about "nonsense" in response to an essay by Matthew Zapruder over at Harriet. As I said there, "nonsense" isn't a critical term, not in my book, anyway, and I've no need, in poetry, for instant or even rapid gratification.

Here's Auden on David Jones, whose poems I suppose must seem like nonsense to those who haven't the time or patience to read complicated things:

"It is certainly true that no reader is going to be able to make Mr. Jones's 'now-ness' his own without taking a great deal of trouble and many rereadings of Anathemata, and, if he says: 'I'm sorry, Mr. Jones is asking too much. I have neither the time nor the patience which he seems to expect me to bring to his poem,' I do not know what argument one could use to convince him otherwise. I can only state my personal experience, namely, that I have found the time and trouble I have taken with Anathemata infinitely rewarding."

(Full Auden essay here.)

1 comment:

the unreliable narrator said...

Harriet wouldn't let me say nuffink (she's wise, that lady) but I did *try* to add:

"Two hundred comments on a single post; flying phalanxes of asterisks to denote starts and stops; much madness is divinest nonsense—hey, I think what we've got right *here* is impenetrable vispo, people! Nice work, Harriet—"

Do you know, I always breathe a sigh of relief when you start quoting Jarrell.