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This article is taken from PN Review 225, Volume 42 Number 1, September - October 2015.

The Poetic Line: A Figment of Mortality Elizabeth Metzger
The line is the plank in reason. It is as far as sense will take you until you become aware that you must make the sense. The line breaks. It doesn’t end. It continues down. It allows the plunge, which is the continuation of syntax. It allows us to stop and start again. It is a death in life. It is the promise of afterlife. It is not time but the contemplation of time. It is the eye as clock, the moment when we circle back. It multiplies meaning, but it also allows meaningfulness to thrive before meaning has been made. It is the hinge of the door. It is the door ajar. It is near distance. It reaches just to where the reader sits. There is a finger for every line length. They alternate the way a hand might wave goodbye or drop all in its keeping. There is the horizon, the promise of the line to cascade downward, the way the sun moves below the horizon to tell us day is done but also that there’s another night, and day will rise again. The sun is the poet’s hand and the reader’s eye. We must read up and down and up. We must reread and revise. The line has nothing to do with reason. The line is the escape of reason. It is the line of truth only because it promises no delivery. The line is just a pause along the pilgrimage. We worship at its incompletion. We idolize the wall we break. ...


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