It is scarce necessary to note that the highest test of any literary form conceived in the light of 'poetry' - to apply that term in its largest literary sense - hangs back unpardonably from its office when it fails to lend itself to viva-voce treatment. We talk here, naturally, not of non-poetic forms, but of those whose highest bid is addressed to the imagination, to the spiritual and the aesthetic vision, the mind led captive by a charm and a spell, an incalculable art. The essential property of such a form as that is to give out its finest and most numerous secrets, and to give them out most gratefully, under the closest pressure - which is of course the pressure of the attention articulately sounded.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Eye vs. ear
From Henry James' preface to the New York Edition revision of The Golden Bowl: