Friday, February 8, 2008

Sound and sense

In the last post, I talked about Richard Hugo's The Triggering Town and getting off the triggering subject. While I was rereading that section of the book, I came across the following:

"The poet's relation to the triggering subject should never be as strong as (must be weaker than) his relation to his words. The words should not serve the subject. The subject should serve the words."

I think Mr. Hugo is continuing to talk about the triggering subject, not that next surprising place the poem takes you. And, because he goes on to say, "This may mean violating the facts," I think he really means that the words should not serve the facts. If the house is yellow, you can make it blue.

But it made me think about that relationship between subject and words—subject as essence, not necessarily narrative. I don't think that one serves the other, or the other way around. Rather, I think of them as two Argentine tango dancers, wound into one another, seeming to trade the lead in a conversation, a fluid give and take, a partnership.

The poem is a dance.

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