"There are also poets of silence who start by shutting off the clamour of the universe and the roar of its thunder. They hear what they write as they write, in the slow measure of a written language. They do not transcribe their poetry, they write it. Let others perform what they have created out of the blank page itself! Let others recite into the megaphone of public readings. As for them, they savour the harmony of the written page where thoughts are words, where word equals thought. They know before scanning, before hearing, that the written rhythm is sure, that their pen would stop of its own accord before a hiatus, that it would reject useless alliteration, being no more willing to repeat sounds than thoughts. What a pleasure it is to write this way, stirring all the depths of reflective thought. How freed one feels from time in its awkward, jerky, cluttered manifestations. Through the slow rhythm of written poetry, verbs recover their original movements. Each verb is re-endowed, no longer with the time of its utterance, but with the true time of its action. Verbs that spin and those that shoot can no longer be confused with each other in their movements. And when an adjective gives flower to its substance, written poetry and literary image let us slowly experience the time of its blossoming. Poetry then is truly the first manifestation of silence." - Gaston Bachelard.

From "Poetry and the continuity of silent language" selected from Bachelard's L'Air et les songes (p. 282; 247-248 in Air & Dreams) in On Poetic Imagination and Reverie, p. 24. Translated by Colette Gaudin.


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