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More 'What is poetry...'
Posted by: ph (
Date: September 05, 2003 07:29PM

This is Ursula Le Guin quoting Gertrude Stein:

"Poetry is I say essentially a vocabulary just as prose is essentially not.

And what is the vocabulary of which poetry absolutely is. It is a vocabulary based on the noun as prose is essentially and determinately and vigorously not based on the noun.

Poetry is concerned with using with abusing, with losing, with wanting, with denying with avoiding with adoring with replacing the noun. It is doing that always doing that, doing that and doing nothing but that. Poetry is doing nothing but using losing refusing and pleasing and betraying and caressing nouns...

So that is poetry really loving the name of anything and that is not prose."

Ursula Le Guin is best known as a science fiction writer. Gertrude Stein is best known as a writer of, uh, well--here's one of her poems.

Stanzas in Meditation
Gertrude Stein


Part I

Stanza XIII

She may count three little daisies very well
By multiplying to either six nine or fourteen
Or she can be well mentioned as twelve
Which they may like which they can like soon
Or more than ever which they wish as a button
Just as much as they arrange which they wish
Or they can attire where they need as which say
Can they call a hat or a hat a day
Made merry because it is so.

Re: More 'What is poetry...'
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: September 05, 2003 08:56PM

Only nouns? I take it she never read any e e cummings.

if everything happens that can't be done
(and anything's righter
than books
could plan)
the stupidest teacher will almost guess
(with a run
around we go yes)
there's nothing as something as one

one hasn't a why or because or although
(and buds know better
than books
don't grow)
one's anything old being everything new
(with a what
around we go who)
one's everyanything so

so world is a leaf is a tree is a bough
(and birds sing sweeter
than books
tell how)
so here is away and so your is a my
(with a down
around again fly)
forever was never till now

now i love you and you love me
(and books are shutter
than books
can be)
and deep in the high that does nothing but fall
(with a shout
around we go all)
there's somebody calling who's we

we're everything brighter than even the sun
(we're everything greater
than books
might mean)
we're everyanything more than believe
(with a spin
alive we're alive)
we're wonderful one times one

Re: More 'What is poetry...'
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: September 08, 2003 05:38PM

Still, Gertrude was mostly right about the nouns. Wyndham Lewis advised all poets to "take out all the adjectives". And remember what Humpty said about words:

"Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. 'They've a temper, some of them - particularly verbs: they're the proudest - adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs - however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!'

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