Friday, March 25, 2016

Walt Whitman says

I like any word which sharply defines its object: I prefer the ugly to the beautiful words if the ugly word says more: ugly words you’ll often find drive more immediately to their purpose…. 

We look to reflect, to stand for, fact. Not pleasant fact only, but fact: and fact means all tempests, horrors, hoggishnesses – everything – whatever! I am always curious in just such points – complexion, the color of a man’s hair, eyes, voice, legs, arms, trunk, port – all that goes to make him himself….

If a fellow is to write poetry the secret is – get in touch with humanity – know what the people are thinking about: retire to the very deepest sources of life – back, back, till there is no farther point to retire to….

It must drive on, drive on, without protest, without explanations, without hesitations, on and on – no apologies, no dickers, no compromises – just drive on and on, no matter how rough, how dangerous the road may be…. 

I in the main like traders, workers, anyone, better than authors. The author class is a priest class with esoteric doctrines: I do not easily mix with it – I refuse to condone it…. 

When you talk to me of “style” it is as though you had brought me artificial flowers. Awhile ago, when I could get out more, I used to stop at Eighth Street there, near market, and look at the artificial flowers made with what marvelous skill. But then I would say: What’s the use of the wax flowers when you can go out for yourself and pick real flowers? That’s what I think when people talk to me of “style,” “style,” as if style alone and of itself was anything …. Style is to have no style…. 

Oh! I expect the day to come … when all these things will be scattered to the winds – literariness, polish, grammaticalism, all that – routed and damned, by some daring spirit, some bold, bold personality, full of defiance, straight in communication with the elemental forces…. The new man will have a flavor all his own, like a new climate, a fresh breath of northern air….

The secret of it all, is to write in the gush, the throb, the flood, of the moment – to put things down without deliberation – without worrying about their style – without waiting for a fit time or place. I always worked that way. I took the first scrap of paper, the first doorstep, the first desk, and wrote – wrote, wrote… By writing at the instant the very heartbeat of life is caught…. 

My friends could never understand me, that I would start out so evidently without design for nowhere and stay long and long. That has mainly been my method: I have caught much on the fly: things as they come and go – on the spur of the moment. I have never forced my mind: never driven it to work: when it tired, when writing became a task, then I stopped: that was always the case – always my habit…. 

In most of us I think writing gets to be a disease. We scribble, scribble, scribble – eternally scribble: God looks on – it turns his stomach: and while we scribble we neglect life….

I avoid at all times the temptation to patch up and refine, preferring to let each version or whatever go out substantially as it was first suggested. This does not mean that I am not careful: it only means that I try not to overdo my cake…. 

Some of my enemies who think I write in the dark without premeditation ought to see that sheet of paper: there ain’t a word there that seems to have an easy time of it – that wasn’t subject to catawauling. I tell you … it’s no fun for words when they get in my hands…. 

It is the very worst sort of logic to try a poem by rules of logic – to try to confirm a round world by square tests – to sit down and argue a poem out, out, out, to an end – yes, to death…. 

I am not a reciter…. I am not a poetic acrobat – not in the least…. I don’t recite because I don’t know them….  I never commit poems to memory – they would be in my way…. 

I get humors – they come over me – when I resent being discussed at all, whether for good or bad – almost resent the good more than the bad: such emotional revolts: against you all, against myself: against words – God damn them, words: even the words I myself utter: wondering if anything was ever done worth while except in the final silences.

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