8/11/11

The One-Eyed Giant




"Most of the time we see only a portion of the person with us, the other parts are hidden by a hat or clothes or by light or shadow. Every one is accustomed to completing the whole entirely by memory. But when Picasso saw a single eye, the other ceased to exist for him."
                            --Gertrude Stein

Whereas often the prose writer's business is to communicate in fullto deliver through seamless language the perfectly framed thought, the argument intact, the most artful reportage—the poet falls wholly in love with one-eyed language. With language's beautifully uncooperative profile. Heather McHugh describes, for example, Dickinson and Celan's lyrical structures as "a math of the missing." Says McHugh: "[Poetry's] economies operate by powers of intimation: glimmering and glints, rather than exhaustible sums...It is the space that defines the words, the skull the kiss, the hole the eye."

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