bird poetics

As the third day came around, with these four lines [of a poem] as a body or at least part of a body, I had acquired a structure capable of development. These lines I carried with me in my head as I walked over to the main camp for breakfast. I carried them back on my return, and with pad and pencil sat down on our porch looking out on a more placid stretch of the river. Between the river and the porch lay a meadow over which many different birds were disporting. Soon I found myself absorbed in their enterprises, and in particular noted the hop-hop-hop of a certain small bird. That hop-hop-hop was another device of my devil, this time more tempter than censor, to divert me from my appointed project. I had begun to construct a fantasy that poetry is the language and rhythm for birds, and that prose is for cows. Indeed I may still write that poem. I’ll tuck away the line: Prose is for cows.

—Melville Cane, Making a Poem: An Inquiry into the Creative Process (Harvest Book, Harcourt, Brace & World, 1952, 1960)

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