Saturday, December 09, 2006

Clive James on Robert Frost

"...I started re-reading Robert Frost, something that I have done every ten years or so throughout my adult life. I would never stop reading him if there were not something talkatively smooth about him that allows me to convince myself he is not intense. Then I pick him up again and find that his easy-seeming, usually iambic, conversational forward flow is a deception, a way of not just bringing show-stopping moments to your attention but of moving them past your attention, so that you will form the correct impression that he has a wealth to spare and does not want the show stopped for such a secondary consideration as brilliance."
(from "Listening for the Flavor: A Notebook" in POETRY December 2006)

This resonates with me because it is also the aim of good prose. The lines should be in service to the work, should not draw attention to themselves, should not pull focus away from the characters and their world. Yet another reason why novelists and short story writers need to include more poetry in their daily readings!

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