In his influential essay on projective or open verse, Olson asserts that "a poem is energy transferred from where the poet got it he will have some several causations , by way of the poem itself to, all the way over to, the reader. Then the poem itself must, at all points, be a high energy-construct and, at all points, an energy-discharge. But the syllable is only the first child of the incest of verse. The other child is the LINE. And the line comes I swear it from the breath.
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In his influential essay on projective or open verse, Olson asserts that "a poem is energy transferred from where the poet got it he will have some several causations , by way of the poem itself to, all the way over to, the reader.
Then the poem itself must, at all points, be a high energy-construct and, at all points, an energy-discharge. But the syllable is only the first child of the incest of verse. The other child is the LINE. And the line comes I swear it from the breath.
So that when he says the heart by way of the breath to the line, he is trying to say that it is in the line that the basic rhythmic scoring takes place. The heart, then, stands, as the primary feeling term. The head, in contrast, is discriminating. It is discriminating by way of what it hears. The Times Literary Supplement notes that "culture, civilization, history except history as personal exploration as in Herodotus and, above all, sociology, are dirty words for him.
If he is contained within his nature as he is participant in the larger force, he will be able to listen, and his hearing through himself will give him secrets objects share. And by an inverse law his shapes will make their own way. This is not easy. Nature works from reverence, even in her destructions species go down with a crash. Sound is a dimension he has extended.
Language is one of his proudest acts. I keep thinking, it comes to this: culture displacing the state. Rosenthal comments: "The problem is to get back to sources of meaning anterior to those of our own state-ridden civilization and so to recover the sense of personality and of place that has been all but throttled.
Homo maximus wrests his life from the underworld as the Gloucester fisherman wrests his from the sea. It is not simple poetry, much of it being fragmentary and experimental. It is a dogmatic, irritable, passionate voice, of the sort that the modern world, to its sorrow very often, is forever seeking out; it is not a clear voice, but one troubled by its own confusions which it carries into the attack.
Olson backed up the correspondence with activities such as the preservation of historic buildings in the city and saving wetlands. He wrote on a typewriter. For the first time the poet has the stave and the bar a musician has had. For the first time he can, without the convention of rime and meter, record the listening he has done to his own speech and by that one act indicate how he would want any reader, silently or otherwise, to voice his work.
Maximus, to himself
The first thing to note is that this is not a sequence that suits a drive-by reading technical term suggesting a single and superficial dash through the text but needs, as with all serious work, some quite concentrated attention. The second thing to note is that Maximus is very, very long, the University of California Press edition runs to pages and it covers a lot of ground. On a basic level, Maximus is centred on the town of Gloucester in Massachussetts and is ostensibly a poem of place but also contains many other levels of meaning, perhaps the most important being the relationship between place and the passage of time. The Personal This anecdote is the beginning of Maximus, to Gloucester, Letter 19 A Pastoral Letter; relating to the care of souls, it says He had smiled at us, each time we were in town, inquired how the baby was, had two cents for the weather, wore besides his automobile good clothes.
Reading by Charles Olson from the Maximus Poems