Monday, July 23, 2007


I’ve been thinking about imagery for the past several days. Ever since getting together over coffee, pastries and poems with friends in Sausalito. The day was equal parts appreciation and trouble-shooting, and Stanley Kuntiz’s advice to “end on an image” was a frequent suggestion.

When I got home, I reread the entry for “Image, Imagery” in John Drury’s The Poetry Dictionary. There, Pound is quoted as saying an image “presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time.” Drury goes on to write, “A poetic image transfers itself to our minds with a flash, as if projected upon a movie screen.”

One of my favorite poems provides a good example—a poem by Philip Larkin. In the final stanza, he writes, “Rather than words comes the thought of high windows.”


When I see a couple of kids
And guess he's fucking her and she's
Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm,
I know this is paradise

Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives—
Bonds and gestures pushed to one side
Like an outdated combine harvester,
And everyone young going down the long slide

To happiness, endlessly. I wonder if
Anyone looked at me, forty years back,
And thought, That'll be the life;
No God any more, or sweating in the dark

About hell and that, or having to hide
What you think of the priest. He
And his lot will all go down the long slide
Like free bloody birds. And immediately

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.

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