Skip to content

Borges on Poetry and the Commonplace

[Robert Louis Stevenson] says that, in a sense, poetry is nearer to the common man, the man in the street. For the materials of poetry are words, and those words are, he says, the very dialect of life. Words are used for everyday humdrum purposes and are the material of the poet, even as sounds are the material of the musician. Stevenson speaks of words as being mere blocks, mere conveniences. Then he wonders at the poet, who is able to weave those rigid symbols meant for everyday or abstract purposes into a pattern, which he calls “the web.” If we accept what Stevenson says, we have a theory of poetry—a theory of words being made by literature to serve for something beyond their intended use. Words, says Stevenson, are meant for the common everyday commerce of life, and the poet somehow makes of them something magic.

—Jorge Luis Borges, from his lecture Thought and Poetry, given at Harvard in 1967 and collected in This Craft of Verse

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. Paul Boccaccio › Moonhandled and Weird on Sunday, September 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    […] of lazy confusion. A good example of the elevation of language Stevenson was on about, which Borges referenced in his lecture, Thought and Poetry. This was written by Paul. Posted on Sunday, September 25, 2011, at 12:00 pm. […]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.