gradschool, poetry, quotes

the simultaneous creation and disruption of pattern

This is from a section where he’s comparing the lines of several different poets – but he pulls back to make some larger statements which I love.

Both Whitman and Williams are creating a particular relationship between line and syntax, and both poems depend, as all poems do, on the interplay of what changes with what stays the same – the simultaneous creation and disruption of pattern. […]
…everything I’ve said about the fluctuating relationship of syntax and line in Williams’s free verse applies equally well to Shakespeare’s blank verse. Attention to the line tends to undermine a narrow preference for one form or another of poetry, for if you can hear what line is doing to your experience of the syntax in a free-verse poem, then you can hear what line is doing in a metered poem.

– James Longenbach, “Line and Syntax,” The Art Of The Poetic Line, 18

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