On poetry…

That strain of American poetry which sought to bring poetry down to the level of street language (or to bring street language up to the level of poetry) never was my cup of tea.  No sublimation there – which, after all, is the heart of classic art.  Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, et. al. may have spoken on and on at great length, but never to me.

The art of poetry, to me, is the masterful use of language such that a very great deal is expressed in a minimum of words.  Hence my preference for Yeats, the short poems in Blake’s notebooks.  Street language is simply inadequate for this purpose.  This is not to say that poetic language has to be esoteric.  William Carlos Williams, for instance, uses ordinary language, describing ordinary things, with an extraordinary mastery of implication and compression of meaning that is the equal of the best of haiku.