Mysterious Sources and Rational Acts

April 19, 2014

National Poetry Month. 19

Peony bud

Peony bud

“The source of poetry is always a mystery, an inspiration, a charged perplexity in the face of the irrational — unknown territory.  But the act of poetry — if one may make a distinction here, separating the flame from the fuel — is an absolute determination to see clearly, to reduce to reason, to know.”
— Cesare Pavese, from the epigraph to The Virtue of Poetry by James Longenbach

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4 Responses to “Mysterious Sources and Rational Acts”

  1. shoreacres Says:

    It’s as interesting to experience disagreement as agreement. I don’t know who Cesare Pavese might be, but poetry as “an absolute determination to see clearly, to reduce to reason, to know”? My response to that is a gut-level, NO.

    OK – now I’ve done a little exploring, and found this relevant. Pavese is “an earnest writer maimed by fascism and struggling with the modern existentialist dilemma of alienated meaning.”

    That makes such a statement more understandable. But I still disagree. ;)

    • Rosemary Says:

      Can writing be anything other than a “rational” act? I mean, writing clearly and intelligibly requires following certain “rules” of grammar and internal logic, yes? Can you imagine writing as anarchy? Could this be what Pavese might be alluding to when he distinguishes between the act of writing with its goal to communicate something, but clearly, and what pulls/pushes one to express something?

  2. Elisa Says:

    hehe now I like this one too–oooo :D

    so many is-es and shoulds and what to do about them all


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