Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Putting things into words …

… Teaching Us the Names | Books and Culture. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Gioia explores the aesthetic resources of poetry in more detail in the aptly titled poem "Words," which declares at its outset, "The world does not need words." This assertion of poetry's superfluity frees the art from a burden to create or sustain reality, a burden that it cannot bear. And yet, the poem contends, "the stones remain less real to those who cannot / name them / … To name is to know and remember." It is this task of naming—a task simple and profound, superfluous and vital—that poetry accomplishes. By naming mundane life with care, poetry draws attention to and celebrates the way the world overflows all referential demarcations: "The daylight needs no praise, and so we praise it always— / greater than ourselves and all the airy words we summon." If Gioia can bring such crafted language to bear on spheres of life often overlooked, he can encourage more people to avail themselves of the articulate, aesthetic powers of poetry.

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