from LINDA WAGNER: AN INTERVIEW
WITH ROBERT CREELEY
. . . I致e come in the past few months at least末whether from fatigue or from a kind of ultimately necessary conservatism末to feel that there can be at least one kind of primary measure for the activity of poetry; and perhaps this statement will seem oblique, but in any case what really sticks in my head through the years as a measure of literature is a pair of statements made by Pound末years ago, I would think. One is, simply, "Only emotion endures." And the other is, "Nothing matters save the quality of affection." Now these offer to me two precise terms of measure for the possibility of a poem. I feel that what the poem says in a didactic or a semantic sense末although this fact may be very important indeed末is not what a poem is about primarily; I think this is not its primary fact. I believe, rather, that it is that complex of emotion evident by means of the poem, or by the response offered in that emotion so experienced, that is the most signal characteristic that a poem possesses. So, the measure of poetry is that emotion which it offers, and further, the quality of the articulation of that emotion末how it felt, the fineness of its articulation. . . . Last fall Basil Bunting told me that his own grasp of what poetry might be for him was first gained when he recognized that the sounds occurring in a poem could carry the emotional content of the poem as ably as anything "said." That is, the modifications of sounds末and the modulations末could carry this emotional content. He said, further, that, while the lyric gives an inclusive and intense singularity, usually, to each word that is used . . . there痴 an accumulation that can occur much more gradually so that sounds are built up in sustaining passages and do not, say, receive an individual presence but accumulate that presence as a totality. So that one is not aware, let us say, that the word the is carrying its particular content; but as that e sound or the sound accumulates, it begins to exert an emotional effect that is gained not by any insistence on itself as singular word but as accumulation. To quote Pound again, "Prosody consists of the total articulation of the sound in a poem"末that痴 what I知 really talking about.
[Robert Creeley. "Linda Wagner: An Interview with Robert Creeley," originally in Minnesota Review, copyright © 1965, and Contents of Poetry: Interviews 1961-1971, copyright © 1973 by Robert Creeley and the Four Seasons Foundation.]