Friday, July 06, 2012

A Commonplace Entry


While we were enjoying unlimited vistas, we noticed a commotion on the water at some distance to our left and, somewhat nearer on our right, a rock rising out of the sea; one was Charybdis, the other Scylla.  Because of the considerable distance in nature between these two objects which the poet has placed so close together, people have accused poets of fibbing.  What they fail to take into account is that the human imagination always pictures the objects it considers significant as tall and narrower that they really are, for this gives them more character, importance and dignity.  A thousand times I have heard people complain that some object they had known only from a description was disappointing when seen in reality, and the reason was always the same.  Imagination is to reality what poetry is to prose:  the former will always think of objects as massive and vertical, the latter will always try to extend them horizontally.
- Goethe

as quoted in A Certain World, A Commonplace Book by W. H. Auden. The Viking Press, 1970, p 201

No comments: