Russian poet and essayist
WORDS ABOUT WORDS
Any given word is a bundle, and meaning sticks out of it in various directions, not aspiring toward any single official point.
In pronouncing the word sun we are, as it were, undertaking an enormous journey to which we are so accustomed that we travel in our sleep. What distinguishes poetry from automatic speech is that it rouses and shakes us into wakefulness in the middle of a word. Then it turns out that the word is much longer than we thought, and we remember that to speak means to be forever on the road.
Osip Mandelstam, Russian poet and essayist, Conversation About Dante, 1933
Posted on September 11, 2000 at 11:03 PM