Poetry and Stupidity

From the essay „Poetry and Stupidity“ by Lawrence Raab

from Plume, Issue 63

at poetry.daily:

One of the shortest and most provocative pieces in Paul Valéry’s “A Poet’s Notebook” reads in its entirety:

STUPIDITY AND POETRY. There are subtle relations between these two categories. The category of stupidity and that of poetry.


A poet fools around with words. And that’s one way of getting a poem started—just playing, not asserting a concept or an idea, because as Valéry says (also in “A Poet’s Notebook”), “If you want to write verse and you begin with thoughts, you begin with prose.” Redefining “stupidity” as “foolishness” feels both right and inadequate, as if the riddle’s answer were too easy. On the other hand, are we looking for an answer, or are we trying to discover those elusivve “subtle relations”? “The proper object of poetry,” Valéry writes, becoming oracular again, “is what has no single name, what in itself provokes and demands more than one expression.”

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