W.S. Merwin on Linebreaks

“I think of stopping at a given point as a rhythmical gesture, and also as a gesture of meaning — because where you stop, if the rhythm is working, is going to have an effect on the meaning, particularly if you’re not punctuating. But it’s important to stop in such a way that the stop itself has something to do with impetus. It keeps the motion of the poem going, both in terms of rhythm, sound, and in terms of meaning, denotative meaning.”

— from an interview of W.S. Merwin by Ed Folson & Cary Nelson in 1981, reprinted in American Poetry Observed (University of Illinois Press, 1984), edited by Joe David Bellamy.

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2 thoughts on “W.S. Merwin on Linebreaks

  1. So true. I’m particularly aware of the correlation of end-words (and NOT in a rhyming sense) when I write, though I so seldom do these days.

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