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This article is taken from PN Review 175, Volume 33 Number 5, May - June 2007.

Beyond the Path of Poetry Laura (Riding) Jackson

In withdrawing from poetry, I did not change my objective, which was a mode of speaking that would be perfect in being truth, and truth in being perfect, but, rather, moved in its direction out of a path that could never bring me - or anyone else - into practical proximity to it. I could no longer compress the objective within the poetic vision of things. Far from putting finis to my dedication to it, I redeemed my dedication to it from the doom that all hope of final goodness of word that harbours itself in poetry faces. My renunciation of poetry involved a more exacting application to the problem of how to succeed in our use of words to the point of making them true than had my commitment to poetry: it made me free to apply myself to the problem in ways in which one cannot function freely as a poet. I 'took on', of labour in the cause of the enlargement and fulfilment of the potentialities of human utterance, greatly more than I gave up.

It has been suggested to me that there is some resemblance between Rimbaud's severance of himself from poetry, and the literary life generally, and what I have done.1 There was finality in both actions, but they differ extremely. I had the advantage of eighteen years more of experience in the specialised field of utterance that is poetry, and the stability of a devotee ...


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