“Poetry is the impossibility of plainness, in plainest form.”
I come back to Howe’s definition often and eagerly. For reassurance, for solidarity, for hope. It seems to me a singular, aphoristic feat: concision without reductivism, prescription without presumption. It says that we cannot circumscribe this world of experience, nor should we attempt to. Instead, we attempt to speak in that humility—and what is impossiblity if not the acknowledgement of humility? We speak, it says, for the awe of that moment. The moment itself is not meant for us, nor is it meaningful as such. After all, what I see clearly is not my knowledge—it is the world as it is, bound to the varieties of our human understanding, that which surrounds but does not enclose. It says that plainness is never simple (it’s not even plain), and impossiblity, no stalemate. Let the forms fall as they may, it says, near or far (still in view), still there for our discovery. Our recovery.
“Woe to us! Hail to us! The thaw wind is blowing!”