… If a clod
be washed away
by the sea,
is the less
as well as if
a promontory were,
as well as if
a manor of thy friends
or thine own
In free verse, are line breaks the product of daemonic possession? Sovereign whim? Delphic insight into how words with which to limn the contours of illumination should cascade and meander?
Above, I broke a snippet of Donne’s prose from meditation XVII into ragged lines. A perceived syntactic glue or some denotational affinity hint at sweet spots for carriage-return-line-feeds.
Though not for no apparent reason entirely, neither are my line breaks artful. They simply ape free verse by marking EOLs with CRLFs, absent regular rhythmic or sonic inflections to delimit black space from white space.
I say “ape” free verse, because I trust that poetry does not arise solely, when ever, by typographic fiat. There must be intensity of some sort, not so? An oddness or wryness, an inspired opacity or daring directness, exacting from the reader leaps of faithful attentiveness, smiting expectation, defeating the friction of resentfulness over sprung hopes of easy gratification?
Poetry doesn’t serve the reader an outcome on a tray, does it? Or reveal how the emotion ends? The reader must, through incitement, contrive an ending for the reader’s self. True?
For God’s sake hold your tongue, and let me love,
Or chide my palsy or my gout,
My five gray hairs or ruined fortune flout,
With wealth your state, your mind with arts improve…
(c) 2020 JMN