louise glück on the unsaid

louise-gluckI am attracted to ellipsis, to the unsaid, to suggestion, to eloquent, deliberate silence. The unsaid, for me, exerts great power: often I wish an entire poem could be made in this vocabulary. It is analogous to the unseen for example, to the power of ruins, to works of art either damaged or incomplete. Such works inevitably allude to larger contexts; they haunt because they are not whole, though wholeness is implied: another time, a world in which they were whole, or were to have been whole, is implied. There is no moment in which their first home is felt to be the museum. …

… It seems to me that what is wanted, in art, is to harness the power of the unfinished. All earthly experience is partial. Not simply because it is subjective, but because that which we do not know, of the universe, of mortality, is so much more vast than that which we do know. What is unfinished or has been destroyed participates in these mysteries. The problem is to make a whole that does not forfeit this power.

— From Louise Glück, “Disruption, Hesitation, Silence” in Proofs & Theories: Essays on Poetry (New York: Ecco, 1994) 74-75.

sophie hunger – broken english

There were mountains to begin with
Silence shaped in giant
My voice would reach the highest
But you cannot tell this in English

An old man’s precise and attentive
My mother’s tongue my heart only sounds
As a girl I got lost in a cloud
But you cannot tell this in English

I balance an egg in a spoon
I’m never on time, it’s too late or too soon
In the night there is always the moon
That doesn’t speak in English