Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for September 25th, 2016

The poet on the desert island

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W.H. Auden

Rhymes, meters, stanza forms, etc., are like servants. If the master is fair enough to win their affection and firm enough to command their respect, the result is an orderly happy household. If he is too tyrannical, they give notice; if he lacks authority, they become slovenly, impertinent, drunk, and dishonest.

The poet who writes “free” verse is like Robinson Crusoe on his desert island: he must do all his cooking, laundry, and darning for himself. In a few exceptional cases, this manly independence produces something original and impressive, but more often the result is squalor—dirty sheets on the unmade bed and empty bottles on the unswept floor.

W.H. Auden, The Dyer’s Hand

Written by nevalalee

September 25, 2016 at 7:30 am

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