Friday, 25 September 2015

Poetry, Prose

One of Coleridge's most famous definitions this; though whence and why the fame I'm not so sure.
I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry; that is: prose = words in their best order; —poetry = the best words in the best order.’ [12 July 1827; from Table Talk (1874), 48]
It never fails to amaze me how often this wrongheaded statement gets repeated, by critics who really ought to know better. I’d have more respect for Coleridge (in terms not only of poetry generally, but more specifically his own practice) if he’d said: ‘Prose = words in their best order; poetry = —stranger words in a more disorienting order.’

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