Here's an article I wrote for the Internet journal of poetry and poetics, the Shit Creek Review:
Saturday, 10 May 2008
Ezra Pound somewhere says that he has gone through the sonnets of Cavalcanti and subjected them to detailed auditory analysis. In another place, he says that it's 'probably' true that many poems return to a certain vowel sound as their 'base note'. Bunting and Kleinzahler are two obvious examples, and kind and focussed Alistair Noon is their contemporary heir. The great danger with such melopoeia is that it declines into 'mere' expereience, and offers few pleasures for the civilized intellect. But the danger is coplanar with the attraction, to the poet, of the almost self-authenticating nature of rhythm and sound. I have often been pressed into forcing out the words at the behest of some pattern of rhythm, or some strucuture of vocalizaton. I know, or from within me is born an understanding of, how the words must sound before I know precisely what they mean. This is the appeal of Homer's surging dactylics, and the attraction to poets of imagery of wind, wave and engine. When one has found one's groove, the poem writes itslef.