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Thursday, 1 November 2007

How To Read Poetry

When the words arrange themselves, be still,
make neither sound nor movement, but allow
them their opacities. Like stones
upon a hillside their significance
lies not in them but in the contours. Lines
lie at the heart of what they are. Do not
exalt them one or severally, do
not mistake the real for what is wonderful,
but let them speak as one in their own time.
They speak the lines. The lines are dumb. The stones
dispose themselves around your thoughts in what
may feel like speech. Something phenominal
is taking place; expectancy and awe
are everywhere, as if creation knows
that some eternal verity from some
external shore has broken through, as if
MacDiarmid's grudging stones had moved at last,
and of their own accord, that needful inch. ^

^ from Hugh MacDiarmid's majestic 'On a Raised Beach'

"'Ah!' you say, 'if only one of these stones would move
- Were it only an inch - of its own accord.
This is the resurrection we await,
- The stone rolled away from the tomb of the Lord."

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