Poetry's Impulse

“Poetry’s impulse to use metaphor, to discover resemblance, is not to make comparisons (all comparisons as such are hierarchical) or to diminish the particularity of any event; it is to discover those correspondences of which the sum total would be proof of the indivisible totality of existence. To this totality poetry appeals, and its appeal is the opposite of a sentimental one; sentimentality always pleads for an exemption, for something which is divisible. Apart from reassembling by metaphor, poetry reunites by its reach. It equates the reach of a feeling with the reach of the universe; after a certain point the type of extremity involved becomes unimportant and all that matters is its degree; by their degree alone extremities are joined.”
—John Berger
from “Dream,” in And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos, 1982

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