Poetry for Breakfast

Anything that can be thoroughly said in prose might as well be said in prose. The everyday intellect remains satisfied with abstraction and explanation in prose; the poetic mentality wants more. In narrative poems, the poetry adds the secret (unsayable) room of feeling and tone to the sayable story. Philosophy in its more logical incarnations strives to eliminate powers of association because they are subjective and uncontrollable. Poetry, on the other hand, wants to address the whole matter of the human — including fact and logic, but also the body with its senses, and above all the harsh and soft complexities of emotion. Our senses, excited by sound and picture, assimilate records of feeling that are also passages to feeling. Poems tell stories; poems recount ideas; but poems embody feeling. Because emotion is il-logical—in logic opposites cannot both be true; in the life of feeling, we love and hate together—the poem exists to say the unsayable.

Donald Hall

Breakfast Served Any Time All Day: Essays on Poetry New and Selected at Shortcovers

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2 thoughts on “Poetry for Breakfast

  1. Said so well! Poems embody feeling and exist to say the unsayable. Yes! That’s a perfect description.

    As far as fiction goes, I love a writer who is also poetic. I don’t mean poetic as the term is often defined. I mean that ability, as is described here, to take that unsayable moment and embody it in the story. Not many can do it.

    Wonderful post, sis! There is always so much to think about on your blog.

  2. I love this too, though I think there are poets, these days, who would disagree. I can’t get into poetry that is overly philosophical, even though my own background is in philosophy. I remember my poet/mentor guy saying, so often, “ABSTRACTION” on my work!

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