Hart Crane: A Letter to Harriet Monroe

… [A]s a poet, I may very possibly be more interested in the so-called illogical impingements of the connotations of words on the consciousness (and their combinations and interplay in metaphor on this basis) than I am interested in the preservation of their logically rigid significations at the cost of limiting my subject matter and the perceptions involved in the poem.

This may sound as though I merely fancied juggling words and images until I found something novel, or esoteric; but the process is much more predetermined and objectified than that. The nuances and feeling and observation in a poem may well call for certain liberties which you claim the poet has no right to take. I am simply making the claim that the poet does have that authority, and that to deny it is to limit the scope of the medium so considerably as to outlaw some of the richest genius of the past.

This argument over the dynamics of metaphor promises as active a future as has been evinced in the past. …

Its paradox, of course, is that its apparent illogic operates so logically in conjunction with its context in the poem as to establish its claim to another logic, quite independent of the original definition of the word or phrase or image thus employed. It implies (this inflection of language) a previous or prepared receptivity to its stimulus on the part of the reader. The reader’s sensibility simply responds by identifying this inflection of experience with some event in his own history or perceptions – or rejects it altogether. The logic of metaphor is so organically entrenched in pure sensibility that it can’t be thoroughly traced or explained outside of historical sciences, like philology and anthropology. This "pseudo-statement," as I. A. Richards calls it in an admirable essay touching our contentions in last July’s Criterion ["A Background to Contemporary Poetry" 3 (July 1925), 511-528], demands completely other faculties of recognition than the pure rationalistic associations permit. …


Title Hart Crane: A Letter to Harriet Monroe Type of Content Other Writing by Poets
Criticism Author Hart Crane Criticism Target Hart Crane
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 01 Jul 2021
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication O My Land, My Friends: The Selected Letters of Hart Crane
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