Ruminating on the nature of Poesy, I am struck by how much of its composition is a process of elimination. Poetry, to me, answers the question: “How, in language, do I express this thought as evocatively as possible?” The phrase into which a thought is cast may be constructed from any number of words at a poet’s command; his task: systematically to sift through these to find which, in his estimation, best encapsulate the promptings of his soul—or, in lowlier terms, best wrestle lyric from prose and style from substance.

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