21 January 2012


Henry Miller, The Time of the Assassins; A Study of Rimbaud (New York: New Directions, 1962), p. 59:
Here I should like to amplify a point I touched on earlier, the matter of communication between poet and audience. In applauding Rimbaud's use of the symbol I mean to emphasize that in this direction lies the true trend of the poet. There is a vast difference, in my mind, between the use of a more symbolic script and the use of a more highly personal jargon which I referred to as "gibberish". The modern poet seems to turn his back on his audience, as if he held it in contempt. In self-defense he will sometimes liken himself to the mathematician or the physicist who has now come to employ a sign language wholly beyond the comprehension of most educated people, and esoteric language understandable only to the members of his own cult. He seems to forget that he has a totally different function than these men who deal with the physical or the abstract world. His medium is the spirit and his relation to the world of men and women is a vital one. His language is not for the laboratory, but for the recesses of the heart. If he renounces the power to move us his medium becomes worthless.