“Poetry is a raid on the inarticulate”

T.S. Eliot

“Poetry is what gets lost in translation.” 

Robert Frost

Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.[1] It uses “ambiguity, symbolism, irony and other stylistic elements of poetic diction, which often leaves a poem open to multiple interpretations. Similarly figures of speech such as metaphor, simile, and metonymy create a resonance between otherwise disparate images—a layering of meanings, forming connections previously not perceived. Kindred forms of resonance may exist, between individual verses, in their patterns of rhyme or rhythm.”[2]

Because it’s ambiguous, symbolic, and ironic, how could it have ethical boundaries or norms?

Recently, there has been a good deal of important work on the relation between poetry and ethics. One conclusion to be drawn from this material is that the relation between poetry and ethics is highly conflicted, not simply because of the conceptual instability of these terms. “Ethics does not exist,” says Alain Badiou,[3] because any effort of conjunction threatens to limit the autonomy that opens the practice of poetry to its multifarious futures. The ghost of Aristotle spooks the whole project. But what if poetry, at least in some of its versions, only gets interesting when it is in excess of its reasons for being?”

So, now you know why I never wrote poetry. Ethics and poetry do not mix.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poetry

[2] Ibid. The use of “ibid” is ambiguous, ironic and open to multiple interpretations. So, ibid must be a poem, right?

[3]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alain_Badiou  Alain Badiou is a French philosopher, formerly chair of Philosophy at the École normale supérieure and founder of the faculty of Philosophy of the Université de Paris VIII with Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault and Jean-François Lyotard. Badiou has written about the concepts of being, truth, event and the subject in a way that, he claims, is neither postmodern nor simply a repetition of modernity. Badiou has been involved in a number of political organizations, and regularly comments on political events. Badiou argues for resurrecting the practice of communism.