Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Here are some more quotes that particularly struck me from Michael Hamburger's fantastic book.


"Has literature a function in the state...? It has... It has to do with the clarity and vigour of 'any and every' thought and opinion...When this work goes rotten - by that I do not mean when they express indecorous thoughts - but when the very medium, the very essence of their work, the application of word to thing goes rotten, i.e. becomes slushy and inexact, or excessive or bloated, the whole machinery of social and individual thought and order goes to pot."  Ezra Pound
"What characterizes a poem is its neccesary dependence on words as much as its struggle to transcend them" Octavio Paz
"In asserting their belief in 'art for art's sake' many writers have failed to distinguish between their personal motive for writing and the function for all literature" Michael Hamburger
"The 'self' written about becomes no more than a multiplicity of alternatives, possibilities and potentialities" Michael Hamburger
"If each man were not able to live a number of other lives beside his own, he would not be able to live his own life" Valery
"There is no theory that is not a fragment, carefully prepared, of some autobiography" Valery
"If I wrote of personal love or sorrow in free verse, or in any rhythm that left it unchanged, amid all its accidence, I would be full of self-contempt because of my egotism and indiscretion, and forsee the boredom of my reader...I commit my emotion to shepherds, herdsmen, camel-drivers, learned men, Milton or Shelley's Platonist, that tower Palmer drew." Yeats
"I was soon to write many poems where an always personal emotion was woven into a jewelled pattern of myth and symbol" Yeats
"The first person in a lyrical poem should never be identified, in any case, with the poet's empirical self. Whether primarily confessional or primarily dramatic, the first person in lyrical poetry serves to convey a gesture, not to document identity or establish biographical facts" Michael Hamburger
"Poetry...is a perpetual two-way traffic between experience and imagination. Poets like himself, Stevens [Wallace] said repeatedly, are 'thinkers without final thoughts'" Michael Hamburger
"It is up to the reader of poetry not to approach it with expectations and demands which it cannot, by its nature, fulfil." Michael Hamburger
"Steven's mysticism, like Rilke's, begins with the visible world" Michael Hamburger
"Poetry has no other end in itself" Baudelaire
"Poetry has no other theme than the poet himself" Gottfried Benn
"It is the feeling of the empirical self which poetry enlarges, complements or even replaces with fictitious ones, but only because the empirical self is not the whole self, cramped as it is in its shell of convention, habit and circumstance. Pessoa's disguises did not impair his truthfulness because he used them not to hoodwink others, but to explore reality and establish the full identity of his multiple, potential selves" Michael Hamburger

6 comments:

Elizabeth Rimmer said...

Now you've sold it to me. That must be one great book!

Marion McCready said...

I'm three-quarters through it and it just gets better!

Greg said...

'The truest poetry is the most feigning...'

I read Hamburger's book many years ago now. Glad to see such things rate still being discovered.

Marion McCready said...

I wish I'd read it years ago, it's been great for giving me a more comprehensive understanding of the different theories and, more importantly, how they relate to each other.

Roxana said...

how true this one is, about the written self as a multitude of possibilities - the photographed self seems to be much more stable, more closed in its unity, but that is an illusion too.

Marion McCready said...

yes, also how "the empirical self is not the whole self", writing, photography allows us to explore / live out our other selves, perhaps that's why we do it