My whole intellectual life as I've started to emerge from the misty darkness of autism has been an adventure in beauty housed in form and structure. My most favorite curative activity was listening to my father read Shakespeare and ask me to describe the symbols, poetic devices and structures which make the plays work, so I came to ModPo comfortable with close reading. I get my parents to take me to the Uffizi so I can study Botticelli, my music theory teacher shows me how Mozart is structured, so it is not surprising that until I took your class I thought poetry was words stuffed into forms.
The language of absence, privation, nothingness has scientific, moral and emotional force. As dark is an absence of light energy, not an entity in itself, death too is an absence rather than a force or a being. That conviction underlies the statement that Love's alchemical limbec turned the leaden soul, with its “dull privations and lean emptiness” into the golden sense of being. The theology and science, the terms of nothing and being, absence and presence—it's all a way for the poet to sharpen the understanding of what he lacks, and what he loves. The poem's athletic feats of wit may entertain readers, or disconcert them, but it has a purpose beyond rhetoric: it is an act of mourning ... and, maybe, an act of self-heartening, too.
-Robert Pinsky on John Donne at Slate
Who has not fantasized about the books they would write if only the right conditions could be found! I have carried around just such a dream, sparked by a weekend alone in an austere mountain cabin in the Austrian Alps when I was a boy. Rumination was unstoppable, and poetry just poured out.
-David Wood in the New York Times