poetry

a relationship to syntax

… the line exists not because it has a certain pattern of stresses, a certain number of syllables, or an irregular number of stresses and syllables: the line exists because it has a relationship to syntax. You might say that a one-line poem doesn’t really have anything we can discuss as a line, except inasmuch as we feel its relationship to lines in other poems. We need at least two lines to begin to hear how the line is functioning.

– J. Longenbach, “Line and Syntax,” The Art Of The Poetic Line, 28

J.L. is starting to occupy a position in my head of symbolic awesomeness. I find myself wondering, in times of trial, “Does J. Longenbach have to do stuff like this?” or “If J. Longenbach were here, I bet he’d tell (X) where they could (Y)..”

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