Owen Barfield on the language of poetry

Leithart quoting Barfield.  Bold is mine.

leithart.com » Blog Archive » Technical terms

They express, as nearly as any word can do, a concrete, particular thing, and not an abstract, generalized idea. . . .it may be worth pointing out here an instinctive tendency in poets, and others, to use general term of things which they are ignorant of or despise, or in which they can discern no poetic value, and particular – even technical – terms of things which really inspire them. Love is the begetter of intimate knowledge; for what we love it is not tedious, but delightful, to observe minutely.”

He continues: “No genuine lover of poetry and of words can pick up a book on, say, Botany or Metallurgy, and read of spores and capsules and lanceolate leaves, or pearly and adamantine lustres, without feeling poetically enriched by that section of the new vocabulary which actually impinges on his own present consciousness of Nature. Nor can he even listen to a circle of enthusiasts – sailors, golfers, wireless men, actors, and the like – riding, as they do, their special hobby-horses idiomatically over all departments of life, without being delighted, without being frappe (for a short time only) by the result.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s