Poetry and ideas
Thread poster: Kim Metzger

Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:17
German to English
Apr 29, 2005

There are so many ways to define what makes poetry a unique medium of expression. Here's one little distinction that I thought others would enjoy.

"Edgar Degas was dining one day, along with the poet Stéphane Mallarmé, at the house of Berthe Morisot. As a distraction from painting, Degas had begun to try his hand at writing sonnets – on dancers, racehorses, and Mary Cassatt's pet parrot, Coco – and, according to an account by Paul Valéry, he rashly complained to Mallarmé, the most fastidiously exacting of poets, of the difficulties of the task. "What a business!" he cried. "I wasted an entire day on one damned sonnet, without making any progress at all.... And yet, I have no lack of ideas... I'm full of them... I've got too many...." To which Mallarmé – "avec sa douce profondeur" – replied, "But, Degas, it is not with ideas that you make a poem .... You make it with words."

From The Art of Consolation, Christopher Benfey, in The New York Review of Books, April 28, 2005.

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Can Altinbay  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:17
Japanese to English
+ ...
Degas May 1, 2005

That's a great story. Thanks for sharing it.

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Robert Donahue  Identity Verified
Russian to English
+ ...
Great story Kim! May 1, 2005

I very much enjoyed it and it's as true as can be. : )

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