And some poets are far better read off the page because they’re very bad speakers. I’m thinking of one in particular whom I won’t name, a good poet, and he reads in such a dry, boring way, your eyes start drooping.
Verse is not written, it is bled; Out of the poet’s abstract head. Words drip the poem on the page; Out of his grief, delight and rage.
I’m not sure that the benefit – as a writer and as a citizen – that I would get from reading at least the front page of the Times every day or every other day would outweigh the depression.
There is no Frigate like a book to take us lands away nor any coursers like a page of prancing Poetry.
Revision is the heart of writing. Every page I do is done over seven or eight times.
Lyric poetry is, of course, musical in origin. I do know that what happened to poetry in the twentieth century was that it began to be written for the page. When it’s a question of typography, why not? Poets have done beautiful things with typography – Apollinaire’s ‘Calligrammes,’ that sort of thing.
I have kept journals at different times in my life. And a lot of my early notebooks became places where I would just think on the page, trying to parse what I was feeling, to find out what I was thinking.
When we study Shakespeare on the page, for academic purposes, we may require all kinds of help. Generally, we read him in modern spelling and with modern punctuation, and with notes. But any poetry that is performed – from song lyric to tragic speech – must make its point, as it were, without reference back.
Sometimes I have thought that a song should look disappointing on the page – a little thin, perhaps, a little repetitive, or a little on the obvious side, or a mixture of all of these things.
It may be said that poems are in one way like icebergs: only about a third of their bulk appears above the surface of the page.