Pound also said "Music rots when it gets too far from the dance. Poetry atrophies when it gets too far from music."Well, I found the WCW passage I had in mind, from towards the end of Spring and All:
I don't recall that WCW line, but I suppose the salient point is that both dance and poetry arose as responses to music, supplements, you might say.
The Derridean logic of the supplement certainly plays out in poetry's history, i.e. poetry as augmentation to music becomes poetry as replacement for music, but this seems less apt for dance. I suppose purveyors of modern dance see their work as separable from music just as poets since at least the 13th century have been happy to speak their poems sans melody.
Pound again: "There are three kinds of melopoeia, that is, verse made to sing; to chant or intone; & to speak. The older one gets the more one believes in the first."
Writing is likened to music. The object would be it seems to make poetry a pure art, like music. Painting too. Writing, as with certain of the modern Russians whose work I have seen, would use unoriented sounds in place of conventional words. The poem would then be completely liberated when there is identity of sound with something – perhaps the emotion.Nothing about dance there, tho my memory isn't playing me entirely false, since Wms a few lines before writes of how poetry "creates a new object, a play, a dance which is not a mirror up to nature but –"
I do not believe that writing is music. I do not believe writing would gain in quality or force by seeking to attain to the conditions of music. (Imaginations 150)
I don't deny the historical linkage of music & poetry, & EP, Zukofsky, and Bunting among others certainly got a lot of mileage out of the entertwined roots of the two arts. But for all the maddening & wonderful inconsistencies of WCW's statements about poetics, I think he's onto something: that the Paterian notion of art aspiring to a "condition of music" – a content-free, non-referential, purely formal shape – is only one of the options open to the poet in the 20th century & beyond.
Admittedly, there is a very basic pleasure to be obtained from the poet with a conventionally or unconventionally musical ear. And one can't gainsay the achievements of poets who've been attracted by the model of music – Pound and Zukofsky, to name 2 who really didn't know jack about music in any substantial sense, and Bunting, who seems to have known quite a bit. But there's no meaningful, foundational link between the two arts – maybe never, and not anymore if there ever was.
I find, as I get older and even dorkier on the dance floor than I was when I was young & thin, that I find the metaphor of dance – and metaphors're all they are, these "musics" and "dances" and "paintings," after all? – more attractive when I sit down to write. Celan's "Todesfuge" got analyzed in German high school classes all thru the '70s for its "fugal form," but it's worth remembering that the poem started life as "Todestango."
Oh yes, the weekly random 10:
1) “Den of Sins,” Naked City, Naked City
2) “Born to Run,” Emmylou Harris, Spyboy
3) “Down Where the Drunkards Roll,” Richard Thompson, the big box set
4) “Bottle of Smoke,” The Pogues, If I Should Fall from Grace with God
5) “I Don’t Know,” Mekons, I Love Mekons
6) “Friendly Ghosts,” Mark Ribot, Rootless Cosmopolitans
7) “Archimedes,” John Cale, Hobo Sapiens
8) “Garage d’Or,” Mekons, Original Sin
9) “Long Dark Street,” Oysterband, The Shouting End of Life
10) “Ashes to Ashes,” David Bowie, Scary Monsters