I am swept away whenever I read essays or poetry by Octavio Paz. In the current collection of essays, Alternating Current, that I am still savouring and forcing myself to not rush through, Paz offers insight on poetry with his succinct writing:
The meaning does not reside outside the poem but within it, not in what the words say, but in what they say to each other.
With clarity and ample examples of interrelationships between poets and poetic schools, Paz demonstrates both his experience of the canon and his interpretation of poetic techniques:
The difficulty of modern poetry does not stem from its complexity—Rimbaud is far simpler than Góngora or Donne—but rather from the fact that, like mysticism or love, it demands total surrender (and an equally total vigilance).
Then to bring it together, he comments on form and meaning:
The real ideas of a poem are not those that occur to the poet before he writes his poem, but rather those that appear in his work afterward, whether by design or by accident. Content stems from form, and not vice versa…. The meaning of a poem does not lie in what the poet wanted to say, but in what the poem actually says.
And all this in just the first 4 pages of the collection of essays. Reading these essays is having the privilege to be in the mind ofPaz as he links his thoughts on various aspects of language, art, poetry and technique.
Samir Rawas Sarayji