Original poem reprinted online here: "Poetry" by Alfred Kreymborg
Originally read: April 27, 2013
More information about the Poet: Alfred Kreymborg
This is an funny and odd definition poem about Poetry. This isn't ars poetica in a sense that this is the speakers definition of poetry, rather this is the speaker observing a critics interpretation of poetry and then critiquing the critic. Convoluted, yes. That's just me.
So the first line introduces the critic and the description is humorous. Ladislaw is his name and:
five feet six inches high,
that his eyes
are five feet two inches
from the ground.
The humor comes from the perspective. Also the note that the value of "Poetry" will be decided with eyes, body language, physical response to poetry. There's three levels here.
First if "his eyes lift to five feet / and a trifle more than two inches, what you have done / is Poetry --" Humorous because of the specificity of the the look, and how the look should be interpreted. Eyes up. Poetry.
Second,"Should his eyes remain / at five feet two inches, / you have perpetuated prose," is more of a neutral stance. However, the word "perpetuated prose" brings humor as though there's an implied misdeed in writing prose.
I want to focus on the last criteria point, yes the eyes go downward, but "you / are an unspeakable adjective." A couple of things with this last part. First, the focus is on the "you" rather than what the "you" creates -- poem, or prose (unfortunately according to the poem). Also, I'm more interested in the idea of "unspeakable adjective."
The subject/noun combination brings in the idea of the taboo and the mysterious. And by doing so creates a stratification (which, is again, solidified with the whole eye level metaphor) that makes me want to know more about the taboo language rather than what is poetry.