“But did you MEAN to write it that way?” One

from Ellen Voigt The Art of Syntax

After detailed analysis of a poem, someone usually asks whether all that has been pointed to—or any of it, for that matter—was intended by the poet. The truthful answer seems weaselly: yes and no. It’s probably not often an authentic poem of “felt though” emerges solely from a willfulness intent on all the effects I have identified, any more than studying your feet as they move will help you down the stairs. But the mirrors in the ballet studio have a purpose: neither a first-position plie nor skillful iambic pentameter occurs spontaneously in the human animal.


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