|Hayden Carruth [syracuse.com]|
from Hayden Carruth’s Selected Essays:
without doubt much of the best poetry in our century, especially in America, has been composed according to notions of free metric. Pound was the master. He kept the measure — often in the Cantos a four-stress line — he kept alive our anticipation of the beat, he was always aware of line values, very keenly aware; yet by using every device of phrasing, including rests and stops, he also kept alive our sense of the spontaneity and natural harmony of poetic language, never forced, never imprecise. His influence is pervasive. It seems to me that the three closest followers of Charles Olson — Denise Levertov, Robert Creeley, and Robert Duncan — come nearer to Pound in the metrical practices I have just described than they do to Olson or Williams himself. . . .
Not long ago when I was reading Whitman with some graduate students, we all agreed that we were too inhibited vocally to chant the poems as Whitman himself doubtless did. Our grandparents and great-grandparents were taught to read poetry as poetry. No doubt many excesses were committed — gestures, declamatory extravagance, etc. — but why did we throw out the baby with the bath water? Now we are afraid to read even our own finicky poems for the vocal acuities they might possibly contain. Our voices are atrophied, no tension in them, no resonance or timbre. . . .
the “power to reason” means the “will to dominate.” Intelligence is the perversion of instinct. We cannot use it, but we must somehow, by force of self-denial or power of self-transcendence, bring it into consonance with the superiority of non-intelligence.