December 19, 2011

Our Words

No one likes to be required
to answer a question
yes or no,
because things are never
that simple.
This is not because
individual words
are too weak;
it's because
they are too powerful.
They can mean
too many things.

So we add more words,
and embed our clauses
in more clauses,
in order to mute language,
modify it,
and reduce it
to the modesty
of our intentions.

—Louis Menand, essay/review on Ezra Pound
(in The New Yorker, June 9&16, 2008)

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