Saturday, 18 July 2009

Pia Tafdrup: Over the Water I Walk (IV) - 7


Syntactical accretions can give words unusual weight, but the image is the place where all the original meaning disappears and a new concretion emerges. What is often overlooked is the fact that image-like effects are also attained through devices like sound, rhythm, displacement, crossing and synchronization. All the devices in poetry are more or less image-creating.

Images are not merely thoughts, but summings-up of a different kind: associative leaps. In images elements from widely different spheres are brought together, values that are apparently contrary to one another. Here we meet the impossible, yet it seems obvious. The images in a poem have such a disturbing effect precisely because of their special intensity and sensuous quality.


It is not only the individual image that is decisive: much depends on how the images appear within the poem. They must balance, sometimes in a soft and delicate dance. If the images fall too closely they lose weight, and if they point in different directions they cancel themselves out instead of throwing light on one another. They are like spotlights, all of which must be trained on the poem’s idea. Does it sound like a search for harmony? No matter how experimental the work, it is of the essence of art that the work should “open”. In one sense or another, striving is always beauty. The images can form complex inner relationships, but they must speak inwardly, it is in their combination that the leap takes place and a new meaning is created.


Poetry’s image-language is not necessarily a two-dimensional value. It is precisely when the metaphor becomes sculpture that a higher degree of sensuous reality is attained. The plasticity of poetry should be a simultaneous expression of thought and feeling, and also contain a philosophical, existential dimension.

translated from Danish by David McDuff

Over the Water I Walk (IV) - 1
Over the Water I Walk (IV) - 2
Over the Water I Walk (IV) - 3
Over the Water I Walk (IV) - 4
Over the Water I Walk (IV) - 5
Over the Water I Walk (IV) - 6

Note: the posts with the translated text of Chapters I, II and III can be accessed here, here, and here.

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