Vol. 9 No. 6 1942 - page 458

and a sense of fulfilment different from any sentiment aroused
by even very much greater poetry of a past age.
The music of poetry, then, must be a music latent in the
common speech of its time. And that means also that it must be
latent in the common speech of the poet's
It would not be
to my present purpose to inveigh against the ubiquity of standard·
ised, or 'B.B.C.' English.
we all came to talk alike there would
no longer be any point in our not writing alike: but until that
time comes-and I hope it may be long postponed-it is the poet's
business to use the speech which he finds about him, that with
which he is most familiar. I shall always remember the impres–
sion of W. B. Yeats reading poetry aloud. To hear him read his
own works was to be made to recognise how much the Irish way
of speech is needed to bring out the beauties of Irish poetry: to
hear Yeats reading William Blake was an experience of a dif–
ferent kind, more astonishing than satisfying. Of course, we do
not want the poet merely to reproduce exactly the conversational
idiom of himself, his family, his friends and his particular dis–
trict: but what he finds there is the material out of which he
must make his poetry. He must, like the sculptor, be faithful to
the material in which he works; it is out of sounds that he has
heard that he must make his melody and harmony.
It would be a mistake, however, to assume that all
ought to be melodious, or that melody is more than one of the
components of the music of words. Some poetry is meant to be
sung; most poetry, in modern times, is meant to be spoken--and
there are many other things to be spoken of besides the murmur
of innumerable bees or the moan of doves in immemorial elms.
Dissonance, even cacophany, has its place: just as, in a poem of
any length, there must be transitions between passages of greater
and less intensity, to give rhythm of fluctuating emotion essential
to the musical structure of the whole; and the passages of less
intensity will be, in relation to the level on which the total poem
operates, prosaic-so that, in the sense implied by that context,
it may be said that no poet can write a poem of amplitude unless
he is a master of the prosaic.'
'This is the complementary doctrine to that of the 'touchstone' line or passage
of Matthew Arnold: this teat of the greatness of a poet is the way he writes
inte'Jlse, hl!t str!lctur11lly vit11l, matter.
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